Commercial real estate – virtual office viewings
Flexioffices have partnered with Smart Viewing to deliver a bespoke platform to the flex office space sector enabling online guided viewings. The interface combines a two-way voice and video link with a central screen displaying 360-degree virtual tours, static images or video controlled by the office owner.
The impact of Covid-19 has been profound. Physical viewings have ceased and virtual viewings have taken their place. The adoption of virtual viewings was well under way within commercial real estate, but Covid-19 has forced it to evolve – as a result, flex space operators adopted Zoom / Google Hangouts etc. and engaged in recording video of their properties to cobble together ways to show customers their buildings, but a robust platform to serve as a vehicle to deliver these viewings doesn’t as yet exist. Flexioffices are looking to change this.
Flexioffices are delivering this interface to the market at our own cost, and making it available to flex space operators without restriction – viewings come from all kinds of sources – both directly to operators and via a large number of intermediaries like brokers and agents – this interface can be used to conduct a virtual viewing regardless of where the lead has come from, giving the market full flexibility on it’s use.
The flex space sector has been growing at an unprecedented rate in recent years. This has resulted in a greatly increased number of buildings, which is great – breadth of choice is great for the consumer.
This has also made the flex space market increasingly more complex. Consumers are faced with a vast range of brands, each offering a particular aesthetic / look and feel. As this complexity grows alongside an expanding market, customers have to review a larger and larger number of properties in order to find the right one for their business.
This takes a lot of time.
An analysis of viewings in Victoria / SW1 over a 12-month period showed that, on average, a customer views 6 properties during a single viewing schedule. It will take between 45 minutes and an hour to complete a viewing and get to the next one (as long as they are scheduled correctly!). That’s up to 6 hours and effectively an entire working day. There are usually up to 15 buildings with the right-sized available space, so to see them all will require more than two days. Within a 12-month period, Flexioffices will see in the region of 600 customers interested in SW1 space – if they all saw 6 buildings each with an hour between each building, that would work out to 21,600 hours of viewing time. If they wanted to see all 15 buildings each, that’s 54,000 hours! That’s over 6 years of viewings!!!
Smart Viewing allows a customer to get an overview of how a flex space looks and feels within 10 minutes. Due to the video/voice link, customers can also interact with the office representative, ask questions and build rapport.
Virtual Viewings have quickly established themselves in the residential sector as an efficient way for customers to shortlist which properties to view first-hand. Flex space is the closest equivalent within the CRE (Commercial Real Estate) sector, because the office environments are pre-built, with a focus on the aesthetic of the environment (the ‘wow-factor’). Customers seeking flex space are more inclined to choose space on the basis of what it looks like and if it matches their company culture / brand – they will then move on to more commercial considerations like price and contract structure.
The benefits for customers are clear – where previously they could have seen 1 building, they can now see 6. This allows them to make more informed decisions about which properties they will see ‘in the flesh’ and gives them greater confidence that they have seen as accurate a representation of the market as possible and can be confident in their choices.
The benefits for providers are also considerable – the virtual viewing mechanism can be a route towards physically seeing customers that are most likely to buy. There is also the benefit of being able to switch between properties within a portfolio in real time – for flex operators that have multiple buildings within a city, for example, this enables them to showcase their whole portfolio in a single sitting.
Michael Dubicki, director of business development at Flexioffices has commented;
‘Smart Viewings are designed to work best with 360-degree virtual tours but will support static images and video – for operators that do not have access to 360-degree walk-throughs, this will allow them to showcase their properties to customers that may not be in a position to view offices physically.
Flexioffices will be growing and upgrading the interface over time so that it can evolve into an extensive value-add tool both during Covid-19 times, but also beyond into a CRE sector which has embraced technology as an enabler of progress.’