Editor's Note: As the real estate industry currently weathers the coronavirus pandemic, we recently spoke with three of the 2020 Real Estate Newsmakers who were honored within the Futurists category to get their take on how social media can be better utilized during this time. Also, more importantly, we asked them how they're tackling the biggest issues that have arisen for them since the crisis began.
What's been the biggest challenge for you and your company since the pandemic began?
Alex Allison: The biggest challenge has been figuring out the best way for us to support our guests in the most meaningful and helpful way, which is why we recently shifted our offerings from short-term vacation rentals to mid-term rentals to provide destination isolation solutions. We heard from our clients that they need longer-term options for staying somewhere where friends and family, or households that otherwise would have been together, can social distance and isolate comfortably together in a safe, healthy environment. They shared the desire to retreat to a location within driving distance where they could get from Point A to Point B responsibly and be in a home other than their own during these stressful times. They want a clean, quiet, safe space with all the amenities to escape to and comfortably live in for 1-3 months.
So we did just that. We reinvented our product offering and launched the first of its kind live/work destination experience to fill their needs. You simply select a destination experience—tropical, desert, mountains, etc. Then you choose the duration of your stay and lock it in. Our destination concierge will help with all the details thereafter.
Kacie Ricker: Coldwell Banker invested heavily in robust technology to ensure our agents and employees have the tools they need to operate in a virtual world. Agents continue to provide our customers and clients with personalized service through online platforms, like digital documentation and signatures, virtual showings and tours via their smart phones and tablets, live events and FaceTime. From their homes, employees are delivering support to our agents to help them excel, whether that be tech support, marketing assets, virtual open house support, learning expos, and more. It is truly a remarkable effort made by an extraordinary network to ensure our customers and clients can continue to purchase and sell homes.
The safety of our agents, employees, customers and the community at-large continue to be our highest priority. As conditions continue to rapidly evolve, keeping our agents and employees informed with real-time news is critical. Fortunately, we have a structure in place that enables us to share pertinent information efficiently and effectively.
Howard Tager: Ylopo provides digital marketing and digital marketing technology to the real estate industry. Ylopo's clients are small, medium and large real estate teams throughout North America who are all facing the prospect of limited to no business over the next few months as more and more states go into lockdown and shelter-at-home. Without human to human contact, it becomes difficult for real estate agents to earn a living. If they can't earn a living, many of our clients will need to pause their digital marketing until the crisis is over and they can get back to business.
How are utilizing social media to help you conduct business during this trying time?
AA: Social hasn't been a high priority as our sole focus has been on supporting our customers. We've been laser-focused on supporting the needs of our customers and delivering on our promise of elevated hospitality. However, recently we have mainly been taking a solution approach to our social media platforms. People are looking for safe ways to isolate and D. Alexander is giving them that option.
KR: Agents and employees continue to connect with each other via social media. We are using #CBGoodNews to share our positive stories related to customer service, business wins, charitable giving efforts, and more. We do this to keep our agents' and employees' spirits high. Agents are taking to social media to host virtual open houses and home tours, and much more.
HT: We're using social media in a number of interesting ways to help our clients. First, we are running weekly Zoom webinars with star client panelists who are helping our agents figure out how to keep moving their business along and stay motivated and productive during these difficult times. Second, we are using our private client Facebook Group—Ylopo Success Community—to share useful tips, information and tools to be used during the current crisis. Third, we're rapidly releasing new DyVA (Dynamic Video Ads) for our clients which they can brand and send to all of their consumers with COVID-19-specific messaging. These crisis-sensitive, but real estate-specific, video messages have been very well received and help keep our clients front and center with their database of relationships via Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Fourth, we're rapidly developing and giving our clients virtual tools, such as the ability to list consumer's homes 100 percent virtually with no human-to-human contact necessary.