Interview With Julien Diserens
In this interview with members of the de Rahm real estate agency in Lausanne, we discuss their use of virtual tours and of the YetiVisit solution. This 360 virtual tour platform is the first developed by the team in charge of Klapty.
Good afternoon Julien Diserens, you are currently a Business Analyst with de Rham, a client of YetiVisit. Today, I would like to discuss your experience with 360.
Hello, I have asked two colleagues to take part in this interview: Mr. Lopez, our Marketing Manager and Mr. Bonvin, our main YetiVisit user in the past year.
To start, can you tell me more about your company?
So, de Rham is based in Lausanne, was founded over 100 years ago and is active throughout the Leman region. Our main activities involve property management, brokering, property valuation & appraisal.
How has this market evolved in recent years, and what impact has this had on your activities?
We are now in an offer-based market which has strongly evolved. This wasn't the case previously, and requires greater marketing means and activity. In the previous era, with an interesting property, little effort was required to uncover several clients. This is not the case today, be it for property sale or rental. Products need to look "sexy", to be branded. Therefore, we now have a three-person marketing team to help manage such tasks.
Is this true for your entire product-range, or only some types of property?
This is especially the case with mid-range properties, with many projects currently under way in the eastern part of Lausanne. There is therefore a high-level of competition and property prices are higher than they should be. As a consequence, it is not always easy to find tenants. They are now increasingly volatile, and don't mind moving for a slightly lower rent. At one point in time, a person renting a property would stay for 10-15 years.
This situation is mostly about rentals, what about property sales?
We haven't noticed any major changes, except for an increased competition due to online platforms. Property owners have nevertheless increased their expectations, with a greater focus on showcasing their products. They are the main drivers of current changes.
How can 360 virtual tour solutions help with some of these issues?
Today, the newer generations place a greater emphasis on visuals and immersion, as they want everything immediately, with a click, text has therefore become secondary. Therefore, virtual tours and high-quality photography have helped us differentiate from our competitors.
Based on these premises, what criteria did you use to select YetiVisit?
At the time, we were seeking a fast and straightforward solution. We wanted to manage the entire process internally, and therefore required a solution which could provide autonomy, without it being too expensive.
Had you already had any other experiences with 360?
Yes, with external suppliers. These were very positive, but we depended on them. We had to organise property visits, manage timings and rely on their planning.
During your experience with YetiVisit, what type of property have you showcased on the platform?
An entire range, from a studio, to a villa costing several millions.
It therefore covers your entire product range, both in rental and property sales?
That is the case, as well as commercial property.
You therefore shot the 360 images internally. How did you organise this?
We used a Ricoh Theta V, and we are waiting to try the Z1 in order to further improve the quality. Our goal is to cover our entire range of properties, but with a high demand, we have setup a ticketing system. The property managers use this to brief our marketing team on their needs for the promotion of a given property.
What is the main source of 360 virtual tour requests, the property managers or the owners?
Six months ago, our managers didn't hold all the cards to provide owners with the guarantee that all had been done to promote their property. Because of this, we setup a training to help property managers understand the new possibilities, their features and costs involved. We also conducted A/B testing on our website to help demonstrate that the property ads using these new techniques were performing much better than those without. We have since experienced a much stronger internal demand for 360 virtual tours.
Have you managed to precisely demonstrate the added-value of 360 for property promotion?
Well, we didn't just analyse the 360, but conducted a comprehensive overview of the new property ads, which contain 360 virtual tours and much better photography. 360 necessarily helped improve our promotions, but we didn't isolate this element. We studied the global ad success level, as one entity. We had to explain to our managers that in 2019, a typical "nice 2 bedroom flat in Lausanne" ad with a picture of the facade wasn't enough anymore. You now need to use sophisticated wording, nice imagery and 360 virtual tours. We need to use these tools, as the owners are now requesting we do so.
Are the owners specifically asking for 360, or do they just request improved ads?
It's global, both. There was often a high level of frustration with the existing promotions. When this is the case, the first thing we do is the review the ad. In this context, 360 did help us improve the content.
As far as the general public and property buyers are concerned, do they request virtual tours when they aren't provided?
It depends, but I recall the example of a property that had been on the market for over six months, and when we added a virtual tour to the ad, it was rented two days later. We also had a property in Ecublens for sale for one million francs, and it wasn't selling. We sent a colleague along to shoot some good photos and produce a virtual tour. The people who finally purchased the property told us they had noticed it after we had made these changes to the ad. One truly realises that visuals are the crux in today's world.
Have any managers reported a reduced number of "useless" property visits since you've introduced virtual tours?
We haven't reviewed this issue, but our managers are very pleased, as things are much better than before.
We were wondering from a sustainability perspective, whether the level of travel of your managers had been reduced following the use of virtual tours. Have you had any feedback about this?
It is difficult for us measure this aspect for rentals, since many visits are organised by the previous tenant, or with the concierge. 360 virtual tours must certainly reduce the number of useless visits, when for example someone realises that the kitchen is not bright enough.
Has using 360 virtual tours had a positive impact on your brand image, are you perceived as being ahead of your competitors?
Well, today all real estate agents of a given size use or should be using 360. I believe this is the case for most of them. There will always be good and bad students. Everybody realises that 360 is useful, but the approach not always the same. We decided to manage everything internally, whereas many of our competitors call upon external photographers. This helps us be responsive and sometimes produce better images. We are clearly at the avant-garde, with consequently, a very good brand image.
What will be the place of 360 in real estate in the future? What potential improvements have you identified?
Integrating Home Staging with 360 tours is clearly a requirement, if this can be executed at a reasonable cost. Cost is an important aspect for the rental market, as our fees are much lower than those of property sales. Our internal approach has mostly involved developing promotional packages with costs that vary according to the means involved.