Virtual Leasing: How to Give Agents Control of the Leasing Experience
by Kyna Garrett, on May 6, 2019 9:00:00 AM
Once upon a time, multifamily leasing agents would take calls and email inquiries to set up physical tours of their community. They’d greet the prospect at the door, get to know them, answer any questions, and walk them through the community one-on-one.
Fast-forward to today and generation standards and technology trends have rapidly changed how leasing agents connect with prospects.
Is the Physical Apartment Tour Dead?
In-person tours of multifamily communities will most likely never die. In fact, it’s something that apartment renters continue to value in their research. It will always be necessary to have in-person tours to see the community firsthand.
Advanced multifamily technology, however, is solving for out-of-state prospects or the inability to visit the physical property due to busy schedules. The technology is simply reshaping how leasing agents interact, connect and even lease out units.
Multifamily technology that is trending today includes:
- Self-guided tours
- Call centers
- Virtual reality
- 360 virtual tours
What do all of these trends have in common? They’re all some form of virtual leasing.
These multifamily tech trends solve a problem in some form and cater to a hyper-engaged audience that is craving immediate information.
- Self-guided tours speed up the sales process, eliminating the time needed to schedule in-person meetings and coordinate with a prospect.
- Chatbots are present while leasing agents are away from their desks, helping online prospects with their questions or help set up a physical tour.
- Call centers can quickly answer prospect questions.
- Virtual reality lets a prospect explore the community sight-unseen, which is ideal for out-of-state prospects.
- 360 virtual tours let prospects tour a community sight-unseen from a desktop or mobile screen, thus shortening sales cycles.
There’s only one major flaw in each of these applications: the human experience is eliminated.
Sure, call centers have human communication and a human can usually jump in to a chatbot conversation and take over, but that traditional customer service connection that a prospect would normally receive during an in-person visit is sadly lost.
Reconnecting Humans in the Leasing Experience
Whether we like it or not, virtual leasing is here to stay. But what if virtual leasing could loop human connection back into the picture?
According to the Gartner Group, 85% of the consumer’s experience with a company will include zero human interaction by 2020.
That’s what millennials and Generation Z crave, after all — instant gratification with little human contact. They don’t want to call to set up appointments anymore. They value how they spend their time online and their research patterns are far different from older generations.
As for moving patterns, data has told us that more millennials are living with mom and dad, but the generation is actually moving out and on their own. As for Gen Z (7 to 22-year-olds), they make up the majority of today’s college graduates who are moving out. They’re always online, looking for new ventures and know exactly what they want.
To meet the demands of young movers, virtual tours help prospects during their research phase. They’re able to navigate through the halls of a community, explore amenities and tour model units. In LCP360’s case, prospects can then choose to book an in-person tour directly from the virtual tour, request more information or even begin the leasing process.
All of these features solve for out-of-state prospects, disabled persons who may not be able to tour in person, and of course, the tech caters to the digitally-connected mobile user.
Not All Virtual Tours Should Be Self-Guided
In our own virtual tour platform, leasing agents and managers are able to take the reins of the virtual experience, as if they’re giving an in-person tour. Our mirroring feature (very similar to conference screen shares) allows leasing agents to set up a conference call, invite one or multiple attendees via email from the property, and guide prospects through the tour using their own screen.
The benefits of a virtual tour mirroring feature:
- The leasing agent can walk through the virtual tour and point out community features that a self-guided tour wouldn't include.
- A prospect can ask questions specifically about community features during the mirrored tour directly to the leasing agent.
- The leasing agent can secure additional meetings or follow-up calls from the mirrored virtual tour meeting.
- The leasing agent can gauge the prospect's reaction during the tour, gather feedback and learn more about their tour style.
- The ability to shorten the sales cycle for out-of-state prospects, eliminating the time needed to travel and book in-person tours.
Putting the Leasing Agent Back in Control
Virtual leasing is what apartment renters want. While it solves for plenty of problems, it’s important that we don’t stray too far from customer service when building solutions. We need to adapt and find ways that keep humans centered.
It says a lot about a community if it can offer virtual leasing solutions like a virtual tour along with a meeting feature. Prospects will respect the option to jump on a conference call and have an agent walk through the tour and answer their questions.
Having that extra human touch to your virtual leasing will help your brand image, keep prospects and residents happy, and ultimately generate more leases.For more information on marketing strategies for leasing apartments, read our next blog to find out how to generate more qualified leads.