EnvisionVR Co-Founder and Head of Growth, David Esber, joined the Off-Plan On Air podcast to discuss the importance of utilising immersive experiences in real estate marketing to meet buyer expectations.
Hear how our Virtual Property experiences are able to build trust, reach a wider audience, and increase the likelihood of sales.
The Advantages of Immersive Marketing in Real Estate
The Advantages of Immersive Marketing in Real Estate
Intro: Welcome to the Off Plan On Air podcast, a podcast by Excelsior Real Estate in Dubai with your host, Nick Grasick.
Nick Grassick: Okay, good morning. Welcome back to the next episode of Off Plan On Air. Look, slight deviation this morning is the norm. Instead of having three blokes offering their random ramblings and commentary on the Dubai property space, we’ve We’ve actually introduced or invited a market specialist who genuinely, I think, I look poised to revolutionize how off plan real estate is looking to be presented.
So look, I’m going to leave most of the chat this morning to a chap called David Esber. David is one of the key founders of a group called EnvisionVR. Mate, I won’t give you any more of an introduction. Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
David Esber: Great to meet you, Nick. Thanks for the intro.
My name’s David. I’m based in Sydney, Australia. So I’m a builder and property developer by trade, and I’m the founder of EnvisionVR.
Nick Grassick: Thank you. Now, let us know a little bit about EnvisionVR. What, what is it, the kind of, you know, the services that, that you guys offer to the market?
David Esber: So EnvisionVR is a new platform for showcasing and selling of the plan using one to one walk anywhere virtual and augmented reality experiences.
So what that means is you can basically send a link to anyone anywhere in the world and let them walk through an unbuilt space in one to one scale on their mobile device.
Nick Grassick: So this is something that you chaps. Come up with, you actually build it from, from, from the ground up. I mean, how do you take it from, from start to finish?
David Esber: So we created a way of taking the file that any CGI studio in the world uses to create 2D renders or fly throughs. So the same file format they used to create that, we can take that and turn it into an immersive experience. We’ve developed technology that turns it into a VR and AR experience but makes it light enough to work on a phone or a tablet in a display suite or in a buyer’s home, as opposed to needing a powerful computer in a design studio.
Nick Grassick: Okay, so these kind of walkthroughs, and I’m, I’m referring more to the kind of point and click they’ve been out for a little bit of time. I’ve. Previously, and there are companies out here at the moment who offer this kind of tech, whereby it’s essentially a static image, but then has Q points or hot points that you click a cursor on and it zooms in and then it takes you to the next stationary image.
Mate, how does your, how does your service, how does your product differ? To what’s already in the market.
David Esber: So there are plenty of hotspot tool providers or 360 tool providers, and it’s great technology really does help. And, you know, people see great benefits from using it. How we’re different is we let a buyer move anywhere throughout the space.
So they’re not limited to hotspots and why that’s important. You know, every buyer chooses to explore a property in their own way and to really let them take in. The look and feel and flow and proportions of a space, you can’t limit them to some fixed locations. So how we’re different, we use augmented reality technology so that a buyer can using their phone, basically walk through the space and the phone or a tablet acts as a window into, into the into the, the design basically.
So it’s as if you’re in the, in the real home.
Nick Grassick: Okay. So we’re not just talking about. A headset here. You can actually have the service on, on a mobile or, or, or, or as you say, on, on a tablet. I mean, my lad, I say my lad, I bought a MetaQuest 2 for my boy, but let’s be perfectly honest, I use it as much as him.
I was playing against Darth Vader only at the weekend. Mate, let’s… That’s pretty cool kind of tech, but how does that translate into actually generating sales? Like, is there any proven data here or is it, if you’ll excuse me, is it, is it still at the early, at the early stages, you know, I mean, how, how commercial at all can this be?
David Esber: Yeah. So two things in terms of devices EnvisionVR is an app. It can be downloaded from the app store, Apple app store or Google play store on any phone, tablet, quest, headset, as you mentioned, quest pro, and as new headsets come out as well, we’ll, we’ll do a build for that. We also provide a link so you can have a browser embedded player inside your project website or in your real estate listing.
In terms of the the benefits of it We kind of looked to the studies from the existing real estate space, like Matterport and things like that. And what they’re finding is a 20 percent faster sales cycle and a 4. 8 percent higher sales price on like for like listings. Now we imagine that that same experience can be found.
In the unbuilt space when we create these immersive tours as well. But while there’s no studies yet on VR for unbuilt we kind of go off our client testimonials and what they’re saying is much more engaged leads coming through higher conversion rate per lead for leads into meetings. Faster sales cycle, of course, like drastically faster sales cycle, because it helps them build trust with the buyer.
You know, the greater point of difference over competing developments. Really letting them showcase a view, which is hard to do otherwise. But most importantly, a lot of the clients that we have they’re not just doing one development. They’re trying to build a brand and that’s what a lot of developers are doing.
These days, they’re building a brand that getting repeat work from customers or customers passing on the testimonials to other buyers. So for a lot of our clients they really do care about providing a buyer with all the information before they make that purchase so that they do end up happy when they go into their finished home.
Nick Grassick: Okay, so just coming back for a second then, just so I understand, I mean, when, you know, the app is available to download, I’m a buyer, I’m considering buying an off plan property, by definition, it isn’t built, there isn’t anything that, it’s not tactile, I can download the app, um, there’s then a link within your app to the different projects, and That you guys are promoting is, is that how it works?
Does it give you like a list of options that I can see?
David Esber: So a little bit different. Our clients don’t want their buyers to be seeing other properties. So we create what we call deep links. So whether you serve it as a link or a QR code on the site fence or in an ad or printed brochure. When a buyer scans that, they’re taken just into the listing.
We give you a link for each apartment type, but also for the project as a whole, in case you want to share the whole project with someone. A lot of our buyers won’t necessarily do every apartment in a development. They might do an interactive exterior model of the development and then let their buyers walk through one of each typical apartment or something like that.
Nick Grassick: And I can be pretty much anywhere. So I can be sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon. I have your app. I’ve driven past a new construction site, which has got the QR code. I can be walking around my own home, but seeing on my screen, iPad or, or, or, or headset effectively, what it is that that’s going to be built on that particular, is that, is that literally how it works?
David Esber: Yeah, absolutely. It sounds unbelievable. You know, we’re the first people to do it. But. Yeah, absolutely. That’s how it works.
Nick Grassick: And on from that, I mean, when you mentioned that, you know, you, you, you guys are the first, so there are a number of, of VR studios. I mean, I, I went into a little bit of a rabbit hole quick backstory.
I found out about you guys, I guess it was 12, maybe a little bit longer months ago. It was certainly early, early part of last year. And Because it is such a frontier space, you kind of get sucked down, or I certainly did, get sucked down a little bit of a rabbit hole. There are a number of other different VR studios, not necessarily offering exactly what it is that you’re doing, but there are other people in this space.
What is it that makes your… Your product your company different to your competitors.
David Esber: Yeah, you’re right There are there are dozens of vr providers around the world. You know as a developer Even five years ago 10 years ago. I was seeing different vr solutions a recurring theme amongst All of the vr solutions out there is you know, you require Big hardware, they’re on prem solutions.
So someone has to go to a display suite to, to see it or try it. And most of them, or pretty much all of them are tethered as well. So you’re linked up to this hardware by a cable. They don’t work on mobile devices using augmented reality or anything like that. So EnvisionVR isn’t actually a studio.
We’re a platform that lets any of the 6, 000 CGI render studios around the world create these experiences themselves. So the same file they’re using to create your renders, they basically finish off the rest of the space that’s not shown in the render. And then they submit it to us and we turn it around quite quickly and turn it into this space on our platform.
So what it means is that you can use any of your CGI providers that you already have the relationship with. Because a lot of the time you’ve already had renders done the styling work and back and forth has already been done. So where we’re different, we work with any CGI studio around the world and we’re mobile first.
That’s a huge point of difference. And you know, what it means is the ability to connect with buyers who aren’t right in front of you.
Nick Grassick: Now you guys are based over, you may have noticed listeners. I would guess this morning is Antipodean. You guys are based in Sydney or is it Gold Coast?
Whereabouts are you?
David Esber: Yeah, we’re based in Sydney. We have team members on Gold Coast in the UK down in Melbourne, which is Southern Australia. We’ve got partners all around the world. So there’s about 30 studios around the world who offer services within vision VR. And we’re always looking to partner with, with new studios.
But we’re first and foremost international company. Everything we do is online. So. We can service any areas
Nick Grassick: and on that. I mean can you give us a quick idea of just which developers or I don’t know If that’s that’s confidential or not, but what regions you’re in are you across different countries at the moment or how far reaching do you?
David Esber: Yeah, so yeah, so yeah, we’ve done work in almost every continent, I would say most of our work has been done in Australia. For two reasons. One is where, where we’re based and where we started out our journey. But to Australia really does seem to lead the way in terms of in terms of off the plan campaigns and tech, like they’re really pushing the boundaries.
And I would say a large number of the greatest CGI studios in the world or. VR studios in the world are based out of Australia for that reason. So I would say we’ve basically done most of our work in Australia, but we’re more recently pushing into the Middle East, pushing into the Americas and into UK and just starting to pick up some work in Asia as well.
Nick Grassick: You guys really are. Covering all angles at this stage, me and given, I mean, where, where this caught my eyes because of how busy the Dubai marketplace is at the moment, there are literally, you know, I mean, we’ve, we’ve just gone through a slight low as is traditional over the summer period. And when I say low, I mean, in terms of the number of launches that are being put forward to the market, but we’re literally, as we speak, entering what’s looking to be a flurry of activity.
Traditionally in Dubai, the last quarter of each year is the busiest, and I can already see on the projections of the new plans, there’s almost going to be a new property development every single week. Mate, do you have anecdotal or otherwise evidence as to how your services can kind of make that developer, that development, stand aside from a crowd when it is so noisy, when there is a new launch?
On a weekly basis.
David Esber: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when you’re in a crowded market, the most important thing, if you, if you don’t want to compete on price, the most important thing is having a point of difference. A lot of the developers do that through finishes and through your marketing campaign, but, you know, it’s one thing really using exceptional finishes and design, but if a buyer can’t see what you’re doing there and visualize it, then it’s, it’s almost wasted, at least in the set from the sales point of view.
So we can create a point of difference in your marketing campaign and in your sales experience. So, you know, a buyer might be going through 5, 10, maybe even 20 different developments when they’re looking to buy. Most of them will give them a printed brochure and a floor plan. But for, you know, your buyers, they’ll be able to take the experience home with them, continue walking through it, starting to dream what life will be like in their future home, sharing it with their friends and family, and really and building trust and certainty in the purchase.
And when you can get them closer to certainty, that’s when the sales happen. So I would say we give you a point of difference over competing developments but we also give you all the benefits that you get from immersing a buyer into a space in terms of sales cycle, sales price, and certainty.
Nick Grassick: And a couple of things that I’ve just suddenly struck from what you just mentioned, because as an off plan specialist, given that the physical home isn’t built.
People can’t walk around. It is very much at the moment, certainly in terms of what we do, limited to, it could be a pre rendered video. It could just literally be images. An awful lot of our client base are coming over from Europe. We’re finding, you know, there’s, there’s, it’s, it’s, it’s no secret. It’s the reason why I’ve been here for the last 50.
Well, one of the reasons I’ve been here for the tax here. And we’re, we’re finding as a company that, you know, because of a number of the tax reforms across Europe. I would suggest that at least 60, maybe even 70 percent of our, of our client base are currently international. So your service is something that the client who’s sitting overseas in a different time zone can download the app.
We can provide them with the necessary QR codes or the link. So that then bridges that gap because what we’re doing right now on zoom is kind of the go to tool that we will typically use to engage with our clients and talk them through the different plans and projects that we’re working on. What really struck me just, just what we, what you just mentioned is that they can then share their friends.
And it’s always exciting to see a nice little bit of kit. Like I say, I was playing with Darth Vader at the weekend. So, yeah, I mean, do you, or have you found that when you’re talking to, or when your client base are talking to a prospective buyer, that that sale. radius has then become much greater because they’re showing friends, colleagues, you know, it’s, it’s almost like a water cooler moment on a Monday morning in the office when you’re just showing the pals in the office and they might pick up an interest.
Is there any anecdotal or even physical evidence as to, you know, that, that, that kind of, that spread of, of, of an immediate referral.
David Esber: So at least in Sydney anyway, or in Australia, a developer might spend, you know, up to 1 percent of their GR on the display suite and the sales suite and manning it, building it removing it afterwards, you know, so we’re talking 10 percent of your, of your profit margin on a development, just on the sales suite.
And at least in Australia anyway, only about 30 percent of your buyers will ever step, step foot in it. Most of them are going to be interstate or abroad or they won’t come down there. So it is really important to be able to take that sales suite experience and share it with someone who can’t make it down to you.
Otherwise it is wasted money. With our clients, every single one of the buyers. Was able to walk through the apartment before they purchased or, or a similar apartment to take the views, the look, the feel, all that stuff. So one, it definitely broadens your reach in being able to sell. You can reach buyers who otherwise might not be interested in buying off the plan in your region because you know.
They can’t read plans like most people. We haven’t, we haven’t we haven’t measured like the spread effect in terms of other buyers. You know, a buyer sending it to someone else who ends up buying an apartment. But what I can tell you is we talked to the people who buy using our technology quite a lot, and we’re finding most of them will engage most of their family members.
They’ll send it to around five people. They might post it on their socials at least after they purchase. So. That creates you know, sort of ownership over the decision and a bit more certainty, like anything you want to do something that’s hard and scary. You tell your friends, you’re going to do it and it makes it, you commit to it much more.
So that’s kind of the effect that we want to see. But in terms of sharing we let the, we let our clients limit how much it can be shared or not removed codes, things like that. Some of our buyers won’t even share. They’ll say someone has to come into a sales suite. To, to experience it. And in that instance, you know, rather than having a powerful computer, a tethered headset, things like that, all they need is an iPad cast up to a smart TV and it powers their whole sales suite.
Nick Grassick: It’s a world away from what I had pictured, which is, as you say, a tethered headset that you’re kind of moving around an enclosed space. And for me, it’s, it’s as much the flexibility of. Driving back on a Sunday afternoon, seeing something and then sitting down in my own apartment and actually envisioning it or visualizing it, should I say, that’s impressive, mate.
Alright, so we’ve got an idea as to what the company do, how you do it, your reach, the, the, the, the, the, the buyer experience. Mate, let’s just quickly have a look at developers and. Project. Now, I used to live in Australia, which is the reason why I say project as opposed to project these days. Can you listen a little bit about the developers, the project marketeers, how those guys can best utilize your platform?
David Esber: Yeah, sure. So you know, we speak with a lot of developers, a lot of project marketers and something that we’re seeing COVID.
You know, previously people were willing to come into a sales suite, walk around and you know, not be given any information before that. But the really savvy project marketing agents that we’re talking to now understand that it’s changed and what they’ve realized is they do need to give more information to a buyer.
They can’t just. Put, you know, a listing up and say, no, I’m not going to give you price. I’m not going to send you floor plans or anything come into the sales suite. So how an agent can utilize our tech best it’s in every stage of the sales funnel from marketing, incorporating our web based experiences in their website in the sales suite, letting someone walk through a space or look around the external of the building and look at all the different floor plans using our tech.
Or even as a take home. So instead of taking home a brochure and a floor plan, they can have a floor plan with a QR code, or they can scan their phone while they’re in the inside the, the studio and take the experience home with them. So they can keep going through it and keep exploring it. And all the while you capture data on, you know, how many times are people coming.
Are coming to the listing so you can serve that data to your to the developer or your client to make sure they see that they’re getting ROI on the tech. So how can someone use it effectively? Understand that people don’t necessarily want to be sold anymore. They want to be, they want to buy a home, but they don’t want to be sold a home.
So give them all the information they need to make the decision. And for a lot of people that is understanding what the space is going to look and feel like.
Nick Grassick: And I think I’ve got to be honest. I mean, I’m, I’m. I’m somewhat of a fanboy of what it is that you guys do, because it is, it’s taking it to that next step.
I mean, as a real estate company, not only does it make our job not necessarily easier, it certainly makes it more effective, but it more importantly offers a level of added value, you know, from just shooting out those digital brochures and renders and. That, that everybody else does mate, let’s give you a bit of a plug.
How does somebody go about working with you? We know that you’re in Sydney. How would they, how would they start the process of actually trying to hook up with you guys?
David Esber: So reach out to us at EnvisionVR.Io. You can jump on our website and send an inquiry through and we’ll be in touch with you. One of our you know, one of our train sales people will be in touch with you to understand a bit more about your project and help you understand.
How we can help and the pricing to do so. So as I mentioned, when we do work, we don’t actually do the design work. We work with your CGI studio, or if you don’t have one, we can introduce you to one of the 30 that we’ve partnered with around the world who can deliver really, really high quality experiences at a very cost affordable price.
that’s one main point of difference, you know, the price to create an EnvisionVR virtual apartment, a virtual home is nowhere near what it is to get a basically a gaming designer to create this for you in Unreal. And the main reason is because we can use the model that you’re creating to do your renders already.
Nick Grassick: And on from that, can you give us a couple of examples of how real clients are actually using your platform today?
David Esber: Yeah, I can actually tell you about one of our most recent jobs. I mean, this was a smaller job. It was 13 single floor apartments right on the beach in Coffs Harbour.
So the client wanted to do something a little bit differently instead of. Putting all the floor plans out and all the renders out. What they did was they had a VIP launch event that had some celebrities down there, and they wanted to create a reason to bring people all into one place and create a bit of FOMO amongst them.
So they got some pre interest, they invited everyone down for like some, nibblies and things like that. And they had a few VR headsets set up and they let everyone put it on and experience the apartment for the first time in complete immersion and walk through it. When you put a headset on or when you pick up the tablet.
Almost every single time people say, wow, and seeing other people walk through the space saying, wow, wow. It really had a bit of a like a, it was a chain reaction and they ended up selling, they got signatures on all 13 apartments in the one night. So in this market, that’s that’s kind of unheard of, at least in Australia anyway.
So that’s a small development, but we’ve also helped large developments, you know, increase the sales rate, create a much more engaging and memorable experience for their buyers and, and, you know, really push their brand as well to show that they are doing something a little bit differently.
Nick Grassick: And again, I think that just comes back to the fact that, you know, there’s so much noise over here.
It’s that kind of element that I think this market in particular at the moment really benefit from. So, okay. Mate, look, really appreciate your time this morning. Before we finish off. Is there one last piece of advice that you’d leave that, you know, that you’d like to leave with with people?
David Esber: Absolutely. Look, there was a time when watercolour drawings were appropriate for selling real estate or balsa wood models. And then it became renders, then fly through videos, then clickable tours. It’s… Buyers are expecting more and more. They’re expecting a point of difference and they’re expecting to be able to understand the space a little bit more than they ever have in the past, especially when you’re competing with so many other developments.
So do something a little bit different, be brave, show your buyers that you care about their experience and it translates to sales.
Nick Grassick: Mate, David Esber, EnvisionVR. Really appreciate your time this morning, mate.
David Esber: Thank you very much. Thanks, Nick. Great to meet you.