For a prospect considering a new serviced office space or a coworking membership, nothing beats visiting the venue for a personal tour.
Or does it?
With technology constantly shifting the workplace landscape, one pertinent field of development lies in business centre tours. What’s the best digital viewing platform operators can offer prospects ahead of – or in place of – a personal tour?
Some workspace operators have been trialling the use of video calls as part of the tour process. Using systems like Skype, Facetime or GoToMeeting, operators can take prospects on a virtual tour of their space with the help of a tablet or mobile device.
This method works best with a set walkaround ‘route’ and commentary by the operator, although of course mobile devices can fall foul to unsteady hands or poor picture quality.
Another method that doesn’t rely on the centre manager’s input is a digital 360 tour.
Real Office Centers (ROC) implemented the use of Google Business View to take users on a virtual tour of their space, which is widely considered as a promising field of development.
But what if you could take things up a notch?
Take a look at this immersive tour of London’s Abbey Road Studios. This piece of hallowed ground has been brought to life in a detailed digital recreation featuring interactive tour options, a commentary and even snapshots of famous faces:
It’s a unique production by Google complete with its own web app, and offers an incredible tour that few would otherwise have the chance to experience. Could it work for workspace venues too?
“It’s never going to replace an actual tour, in person, with a knowledgeable guide to show you around,” says Jane Erasmus, Sales & Marketing Director at UBCUK. However, Jane believes strongly in the ability of digital productions and video tours to provide a more immersive experience than that of static imagery.
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“I love video tours. They can definitely draw you in and they absolutely have a place in the market mix – particularly for offices.”
So if a picture paints a thousands words, does a video say it all?
Jane highlighted the video of TfL’s new Emirates Air Line, London’s only cable car, as an example of how a well-produced video can really enhance customer engagement and sales. But despite being sold on the idea, she admits to feeling cautious: “the video might be better than the actual experience itself!”
The more pertinent question is one of professionalism, as any video production must deliver a memorable digital experience that encourages viewers to take the next step. Productions are only valued by their conversions, after all.
In the case of digital content, a conversion could well be classed as a personal visit prior to a confirmed sale. So of course digital tours may never truly replace the personal experience.
“But I think video tours could make all the difference if you are deciding whether or not to view,” added Jane. “And after you’ve viewed, you can show the whole team what the offices were like and use it to get ‘buy in’ from your colleagues.
“Also if you need a seal of approval from senior Management who don’t have time to view, then you can show them the tour from the comfort of their office.”
Technology and digital trends are among the biggest forces to influence the flexible workspace industry, which represents both challenges and opportunities on a massive scale. As competition intensifies from new market entrants, and from existing operators with expansion and acquisition on the agenda, marketing techniques and cutting-edge digital productions like this could be worth their weight in gold… or at least, in sales.
What’s your view?