Embrace the Chaos: Technology to Empower Virtual Tours

by Karen Gladney 

You certainly don’t need me to tell you what an unprecedented moment in the history of the apartment industry we’re living through. And by the time you read this things will have likely changed several times again.

On the leasing front, social-distancing practices and stay-at-home orders initially brought in-person prospect tours to a screeching halt. But leasing associates are adopting technology faster than ever, and being as resourceful as ever, to ensure they are still giving prospective residents a top-notch tour experience. 

The technology they are using? Well, they are the same tools that so many Americans relied on to stay connected with co-workers, friends and family during the pandemic. Even as the world as we know it starts to reopen, with video chats and videos shot on their smartphones leasing associates are successfully giving prospects something very close to an in-person tour while helping them #StaySaferAtHome. 

The Power of Video Chat 

Many of us have discovered the power of tools like Zoom and FaceTime to help us get our jobs done and to stay in touch with co-workers during stay-at-home orders. I can also highly recommend the mental-health benefits of using these technologies to conduct a “virtual happy hour” with distant and not-so-distant family and friends. 

Video technology can also be an effective way for leasing associates to chat with prospects and find out what they’re looking for in their next apartment home. 

So much of connecting a prospect to your community comes from the rapport that a leasing team builds with that prospect. Thankfully, that rapport can be built over video chat, too. Granted, it may be more of a challenge than doing so during an in-person visit, but it certainly can be done. Tap into your well-trained associates and learn how they are putting prospects at ease and having the same productive conversations via technology that they would during a prospects’ in-person visit. Smile, laugh, engage in some small talk and then ask the discovery questions to better understand what the prospect is looking for.

Encourage associates to walk around the property and show prospects common-area amenities and apartment homes during the call – this is what they would do during an in-person visit. Talk to your teams about how to manage walking while holding up a smartphone or iPad to conduct the tour. There are some interesting challenges that might come up – being a little out of breath (with all the talking and walking). What happens if you accidentally trip or fumble the camera? or What do you do if there is a poor connection or inadequate lighting? Arm your teams with ways to handle any situation. Oh, and practice – you and your onsite teams can work through the flow of a tour, uncover any potential hiccups and develop their new talking points and highlights. 

The Power of Pre-Recorded Videos

Whether it’s TikTok, Snapchat or something else, it is very likely your onsite associates are familiar with recording technologies and apps on their smartphones and tablets. Use this to your advantage.

Again, creating a personal connection is so important, especially when engaging technologies to sell a community. Let your associates have fun and find their own voice and style to produce short videos of the community. By sending these videos to prospects, you are offering them the ability to watch the video when it’s most convenient for them and also giving them something they can watch multiple times.

Needing to create a touring experience when prospects can’t physically tour isn’t new. Yesterday it was that they were moving from Kentucky sight unseen, today it’s COVID, and tomorrow it could be something else. The inability to conduct onsite property tours is truly an opportunity to further engage the talent you already have onsite but just in a different way. Embrace the chaos and adopt technology that can simulate a property visit and create an impactful experience.

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