It was only 24 months ago, listening to an interesting interview on virtual reality on the radio while I was driving south, to Johor, for some meetings with our clients and to see some of my friends! Talking about Virtual Reality, back then was quite uncommon while travelling was an absolutely normal thing. I was in Johor Baru at least few times a month! The week after that, I had a flight booked to Kuching for some other meetings and soon, holiday would come, and oversea trip planning was a hot topic during dinner time with my family.
Today, after 19 months spent in my home office, going out to buy essentials and dreaming about flying around the world, as I was used to do in the past, I believe technology could help people around the world in releasing the “lockdown/pandemic stress” through immersive technologies. And this is one of the really many different applications that this new “virtual experience” technology is offering!
I remember, back few years ago, a demo organized in my office by a “virtual experience creator” for development projects. He came in and needed about half hour to set up the “virtual stage” and then, after wearing a VR goggle, I found myself virtually walking through the show unit of an imaginary project. Interesting, attractive and somehow exciting but also troublesome, only partially realistic and giving “unstable feelings”. After just few minutes I felt dizzy and unstable, almost falling on the floor.
Since then, immersive technology has been used in different ways but always bringing in simple and basic “quick-fix” kind of solutions, nothing really new, immersive and realistic!However, possibly because of the pandemic, in the past 2 years plenty of new, useful and truly exciting immersive technology solutions have finally been appearing in the market and these, for real, are making a difference!
The technical name “web sockets”, somehow, is not that exciting but the experience of it really is. This feature allows people to interact virtually within a virtual environment. Imagine a virtual conference or property expo where you can see who is visiting and interact with them, talking or messaging with them, it makes the unreal becoming real! Google, as an example, runs its Chrome Dev Summit on a real time platform that allows visitors to walk around, virtually, as if you were in a conference and interact with other attendees.
3D interactive virtual experiences
Education, e-commerce and entertainment have been leveraging on the power of 3D modelling.
As example for all, just take a minute to imagine, from an e-learning point of view, the possibilities arising from showing students things in a 3D world. This is going to make it all that much easier to educate as it creates unique experiences which will raise the focus of students and their learning ability!
Virtual Reality (VR)
We’ve been hearing and getting excited about VR for quite a while. What has happened in the past year in terms of new applications of VR to create truly unique experiences, is enormously raising the potentiality of it!
Let’s analyse together the past and present of VR applied to development projects to really understand the potentiality of this technology when applied to the property industry.
- Many property developers, in the years between 2017 and 2019, have been using VR as an attractive feature in their sales gallery mostly to pull attention from the public. It was an “expensive” addiction to their already heavy marketing costs. Let’s make a bit of math.
- Sales gallery and show unit, even though you get it done with a tight budget, will never be less than RM500,000 to 600,000. In case you want to be different, there is a developer’s sales gallery, nearby where I live, which has constructed the sales gallery and show unit from ground up, then you need to budget few millions, in the best case scenario.
- On top you need to pay for utilities, staff, in some case rental (be it land or building) and your sales staff. And, let’s not talk about “Customers’ Convenience”. Since ever, I’ve been recommending property developers I’ve been working with, to open their sales gallery not earlier than 11am and keep it open at least till 9pm. It is not about developers’ convenience but their customers one.
- Too often, sales galleries are totally empty most of the time to then become suddenly very busy when closing time is approaching.
- We all know where the pandemic has been driving us! Living, working and having fun from home on a 24/7 mode. This has pushed the VR creators to come in with much more interesting and exciting experience where, somehow, the goggle is no more necessary and the feeling, above all if the 3D experience is lived on a big screen, is absolutely great.
- 3D and VR combined with walk through tour guided by a sales representative, developers staff or agent, virtually on line with you, are becoming very popular. The idea that a development project could be sold virtually is becoming very real and possible, several developers have got this point and successfully applied it!
- Cost wise, it is definitely not cheap but, compared to a fully functional sales gallery, no comparison is possible. The latter is X times more expensive and, at the end of the day, very much limited in terms of timing and location.
- Once the virtual sales gallery and show house of a development project is online, potential buyers are able to access it at any-time and from anywhere! Internet is a boundary free virtual space which allows people from all around the world to be reached and “captured” by the unique experience offered
Combining is the solution!
Recently, I was having a very interesting discussion with one of the best “experience creators” in this field, Artus Ong, an extremely creative and successful young chap who has re-engineered the “project’s virtual experience” bringing it to a totally new and exciting level.
As a marketer I always recommend to understand what the target market wants and give it to them in the most exciting and user-friendly way! Artus has been precisely doing this by creating a highly immersive yet very simple to use tool to enable visitors to fully understand the potential of a project from A to Z.
His “self-visiting” experience starts normally with the “classic” image that says one million words, a satellite view of the area. This allows the visitors to understand and “virtually” visiting the surrounding areas, check the actual accessibility of the project location, viewing the main amenities and landmarks in the area. Most of these with 3D features popping up as soon as you come near to them with your zooming and mouse pointer.
From the neighbours’ view, the visitor then steps into the sales gallery and has the possibility to check actual availability of units, layouts, show house till the extend of having a sneak peek of the view from the windows of the chosen floor and house.
Artus was telling me that more and more developers are, these days, reaching out to him for this exciting and creative experience as they understood the huge potential in terms of catch on the public and savings on the marketing budget that 3D and VR are representing for them!
However, he also added that most developers are then losing the traction that these new tools are generating because of poor follow up and inability to have or find the right end-to-end virtual and contactless digital solution for the actual buying process.
I’ve been involved and at the front line of digital transformation adoption in the property ecosystem for several years and after seeing the huge pain point most developers were having, even before the pandemic, in getting a complete digital platform, independently developed, to help them selling in an easier and faster way. I got the right partners and delivered what developers were looking for!
Unfortunately, as soon as the platform start running I realised that another even bigger pain point was the incumbent threat; generating new reliable leads and raising the conversion rate has been the new assignment to my tech-team. This time we had to get a “wide band”, borrowing the term from telco, solution spanning from content and inbound marketing to leads generation and from immediate and automated cloud call centre and immersive and unique virtual experience to loan-pre-screening and secure payment platform!
Let’s be honest, if I put myself in a developer’s shoes, I might be rather investing more in what can produce reliable leads compared to what ease my sales process. The latter is actually not effective if I do not have leads to feed it with! My team and mine direction has then become to find a way to connect logically all the different departments, people, agents and more to have the most efficient and affordable solution.
Listening to the market is always the secret to a successful business idea and what I’ve done has been to match marketing, or better digital marketing, experience with the right talents and the best digital solutions to offer a real, even though virtual and completely contactless, solution to property developers. Buyers nowadays look for education first, we give it to them, then they want great immersive experiences`, we give them these too, convenience comes next and the virtual journey can be walked through at anytime from anywhere! On top we have partnered with several of the best solutions in terms of cloud call centre, loan pre-screening and payment gateways available in the market.
All the above is tested and ready to use, enough to get in touch with us!
Oh, I forgot to tell you. Cost wise we are unbeatable!