VR is the hottest new trend in real estate marketing right now and everybody wants to ride the wave. But immersive technology is also new and unfamiliar territory for most people in CRE. So how do you dive in without drowning in the sea of confusing options?
The technology can work magic driving rates and accelerating lease up but the key is choosing the right kind of experience so your audience feels informed and empowered. Let’s cut through the noise and talk about virtual reality and how to get the most out of it for your real estate marketing campaign.
Virtual reality refers to a completely immersive experience in which the user dons a headset and is transported to a “virtual” representation of your project. Depending on the type of content created, these worlds present users 2 types of experiences: The first type is called “panoramic”. In this experience, the user stands in a stationary location and can look all around (think of being in the underwater submarine capsule at Disneyland). The second type of experience is much more like a video game and is called a “walkable” experience. Users have the ability to move through and navigate their virtual world, explore behind walls and turn hidden corners.
What implications do each of these two options have in marketing real estate? First and foremost is the cost. Creating a panoramic experience is faster and cheaper than creating walkable experiences. Why? Because panoramic content can be generated by simply stitching together traditional still photographs. This works for both photos of existing buildings as well as photo “renderings” of spaces that don’t yet exist. If you have been using traditional photos and renderings to market your project, why not ask your provider to create a panorama that offers your clients a fun and impactful virtual experience instead?
The second implication is empowerment. While panoramas are fun and relatively inexpensive to create, they limit the extent a user can explore and actively engage their environment. A walkable experience is not a passive one; it demands the user make choices and quickly reveals the aspects of the project the user finds most compelling. This information is invaluable as it gives the broker an insight into what is motivating their client.
The final consideration of whether to create panoramic or walkable experiences for your client is control. Do you want to script the user’s experience and limit them to a confined area, or do you want to hand them the keys to the car and allow them to follow their curiosity and desire? Researchers have shown that our memories are indelibly linked to spatial cognition. In other words, we remember environments we walk through better than those we passively observe. Hence, allowing your client to walk through virtual space may create a more lasting impression of your project.
What is right for your next marketing campaign? Knowing your options will help you tailor a solution that is just right for you and your client and maximize your return on investment.
Jamie Fleming is the CEO of Studio216. Studio216 is a immersive technology agency focused on VR/AR/MR for the enterprise.