Rami Kalla: Virtual Reality — When is the Right Time to Invest?

by Katie Sloan

Virtual reality (VR) has proven to be the way of the future. One of the industries that has embraced this technology the most is real estate, allowing builders and developers to showcase their properties and interact with consumers like never before.

Like other real estate sectors, virtual reality can have a very positive impact on student housing. By using VR in its marketing strategies, student housing companies can reach a wider variety of potential residents for their buildings. Since many college students come from out-of-town, virtual reality lets those who aren’t nearby connect with the building and the surrounding community without the travel costs. VR is a great benefit to not only students and parents, but also to the building owners and operators.

The Right Time To Invest

Virtual reality is projected to grow to a $12.6 billion industry, with a large portion of that growth likely to be seen in the real estate sector. Much of VR’s popularity is due to its ability to create a 360-degree user experience. As technology advances, millennials and Gen Z-ers need to be marketed to using those technological advancements. As you’re thinking about whether you should implement VR into your marketing strategy, look at the ways that this technology could impact your business. If you believe that your target consumers and your business would benefit from using virtual reality, then stop waiting and start putting it into practice as soon as possible.

It’s also important to include a virtual reality budget from the get-go when developing your new student housing project. Budgeting in funds for VR will allow you to stay ahead of the curve. For example, by implementing virtual reality, you may not need an elaborate leasing center to sell your units because VR does most of the selling for you.

Saving Money in the Long Term with VR

Virtual reality is a great way for student housing companies to make more and spend less money. First, the unit-closing rate in student housing buildings that use VR is much higher than those that do not. Thus, the number of units rented could greatly increase once a company starts utilizing VR technology.

Since the leasing office can show available units through VR, office expenses will decrease because less staff is needed to show units to potential tenants. Also, the building’s operational overhead would likely be reduced by not having to spend money on legal notices to current tenants about upcoming showings. In addition to the more obvious ways that implementing virtual reality saves money, it also saves time. By utilizing virtual reality, less time is spent touring available units. The perspective residents have a better idea about what it would be like to live in each unit and will be able to decide in a shorter timeframe.

Use a Range of Marketing Content Media, Not Just VR

Student housing should utilize a variety of other marketing content to draw in a broader consumer base. The content should have a common theme, but focus on different areas of the building and what it has to offer, to appeal to a consumer’s varying tastes. Virtual reality videos are very effective at creating an immersive and complete unit tour experience without having to set foot in the physical unit.

In addition to VR, 3D still renderings, flythroughs and lifestyle videos are great tools to incorporate into your marketing. Three-dimensional flythroughs create an engaging action scene through the building while showing off its best features, and lifestyle videos help the viewer connect with the building and the surrounding community on an emotional level. Each of these forms of media can work together with VR to enhance a potential renter’s connection with a student housing community.

How to Hire the Perfect VR Firm

When looking into hiring a company specializing in VR, it is important to make sure that you hire a company that has experience applying virtual reality to the student housing industry. Those experienced working with a specific industry will have more successful VR projects. Secondly, virtual reality can be confusing if you’re not familiar with it, so it is important to hire someone that will guide you through the process from start to finish. 

If the leasing office is not properly trained on how to show off the VR to potential tenants, this will significantly decrease your VR’s effectiveness. Here at Point in Time Studios, we guide our clients through the virtual reality journey and train the office staff on how to use the equipment. For instance, we prefer using the HTC Vive in our virtual reality projects, so we will set up the Vive-compatible computer, Vive headset and controllers in the leasing office. Then, we will train the staff on how to use the machinery and how to create the best possible VR experience for their potential buyers.

Finding a virtual reality company that has a strong 3D animation team is ideal, as they can create a unique VR experience that is completely immersive. The viewer can engage with their virtual surroundings much like they would with the actual building.

Whether you are actively looking for a virtual reality company or have just started thinking about VR, remember that utilizing this technology in your marketing process will likely enhance your marketing’s effectiveness.

Rami Kalla is the founder of Point in Time Studios, a Phoenix-based video production studio with a specialty in Virtual Reality. He has worked with the student housing and multi-housing industry since 2003. Rami has had the privilege of working with such amazing brands as Asset Campus Housing, Ford, PetSmart, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and AOL. For more information about Rami and Point in Time Studios, please visit www.StudentHousingVideo.com.

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