During the pandemic when much of the world was working from home, we witnessed a surge of disposing agents and their respective landlords investing in virtual tour functionality. This gave landlords a solution for active occupiers during a difficult period to physically view properties. Now that Covid-19 is much less of an issue, the benefit of virtual tours still remains to be seen. The use of virtual tours allows for initial impressions to be made in the space of a few minutes, as oppose to coordinating and arranging lengthy physical viewing tours and they are also available to view 24/7, with no need to arrange access, which can sometimes be frustrating when it is not immediately possible.
Virtual tours are considered a relatively low marketing investment, but can it be more costly to the business than that? Do we lose the benefit of a face to face with a potential occupier, the chance to build on relationships and the opportunity to close the deal then and there? Potential clients are more likely to purchase after seeing a product in the flesh, particularly if the agent has been able to earn their trust and credibility from the meet. Taking the time to properly demonstrate the space and its future potential gives clients the opportunity to discover what will work best for them.
From an occupier’s perspective, virtual tour functionality clearly has its benefits, however when it comes to the final decision-making stage, in-person viewing tours should still be carried out. I personally like to compare virtual offices tours to online shopping. I may like the look of certain clothes online, but when they arrive, they just aren’t right. Unfortunately, you cannot simply sign a lease after virtually viewing it, only to decide that you have made the wrong decision.
There’s no doubt investing in virtual tour functionality provides an efficient way for clients to discount properties from the initial longlist, but any agent worth their salt needs to remember the importance of building a foundation with potential clients which is still best-done face to face.