It used to be that if you wanted to sell condos or a large commercial project, you designed a model unit with the best views, on the highest floor, decked out by talented interior designer and hired an aggressive broker to lure people in and close the deal.
But today, traditional marketing centers, collateral materials and other sales tactics are increasingly high tech – a significant change for commercial real estate, which has typically been a staid sector.
Some of the latest trends sound like science fiction, straight out of Minority Report, but they are real, and already in use in some of the most innovative projects around the globe.
Here are three of the most important ways that technology is reinventing the way real estate is sold:
1. Immersive Technology
Imagine a sales center that is an empty space: four white walls and nothing else. Tech savvy markets are creating virtual exhibits inside these spaces, some of which are temporary “pop-up locations.” Instead of investing in heavy build-out costs and lengthy construction schedules during a hot real estate market, virtual exhibits augment reality by simply handing a prospect an iPad, the view through which changes as they move through the space.
Other augmented reality tools include headgear (such as goggles or a helmet) like the ones Oculus Rift is popularizing, as well as gesture-based software – like that used in Xbox Kinect where a person’s voice or body movements can change what they see and hear on a screen. This same kinetic technology takes virtual reality to a new level, allowing potential consumers to walk through a space, try it out, swap out views or floor plans, explore it as if they were on foot – often in a space that does not exist outside of architectural renderings. This enhanced interactivity can help a prospect become more intellectually invested in a place and more comfortable making a big decision.
2. Projection Mapping
This technique projects images onto a facade at night to show a transformation. The building serves as a giant screen and can place the content in situ. While this concept has been used for some time as street art or for guerilla marketing, the 2012 Olympics in London blasted the idea to the world, using projected images of sprinter Usain Bolt on the House of Parliament. Ralph Lauren also used this technology during a recent fashion week to project runway images on the side of a building. Clothes aside, projection mapping could be a smart tool to show ground-floor retail transformation or a construction phasing in a real-world context.
3. Mobile Technology
A browser search has become secondary for many brands that no longer does content wait for a customer to come to them, they are now able to sense a presence and deploy content, targeting potential buyers using Big Data, geo-targeting, even RFID technology. One of the new features of iOS 7 (Apple’s latest operating system) is iBeacon, a sensor that alerts mobile devices that they are near certain places or objects. For example, a homebuyer might walk past a listing in a real estate office window. If that buyer stands there long enough, iBeacon can issue an alert asking if he or she would like to watch a short fly-through animation, or view a 360° panorama from the penthouse. In addition, walking through a gallery of 3D illustrations, the app offers to send all of the images in an email.
All of these technology trends are making physical marketing centers more engaging and exciting, prolonging their lives into a virtual and mobile experiences that are less expensive to build and more nimble as a project changes.