Commercial real estate is hot right now – especially in major tech centers like New York and San Francisco where companies are snatching up great spaces and driving leasing rates sky-high. But for many brokers, the biggest challenge is adjusting their marketing practices to attract these well-funded high-tech tenants. And in a move to set themselves apart by adopting the newest marketing innovations, some brokers are utilizing iBeacons to essentially have a virtual assistant available around-the-clock at every single property they have listed.
What Are iBeacons?
Developed by Apple in 2013, iBeacon is a technological standard which allows small battery-operated sensors to send out high-frequency sound waves to nearby smart devices via Bluetooth. Just a few of its practical uses in the real estate world include sharing pricing information, video presentations, and virtual walkthroughs of available space. These sensors are affordable – beacons with a 15-foot range can be purchased for under $20 – and can operate for up to three years on a single battery, depending on their strength and how often they transmit information. And although the iBeacon technology was initially developed for Apple products, it can be used by both iOS and Android devices.
iBeacons as a CRE Marketing Tool
Soon after their release, iBeacons became a standard “proximity marketing” tool for major retailers like Safeway and American Eagle Outfitters. Now we’re beginning to see their application expanded into the commercial real estate arena, with savvy brokers using them as a way to grab the attention of, and share information with, prospective tenants.
For example, a broker with multiple spaces for lease in a building could install an iBeacon in the lobby which provides a digital overview of all of the available offices along with their contact information. Each individual space could then have their own beacon offering a much more in-depth presentation and virtual tour.
From a broader marketing perspective, brokers can also use beacons to get their name in front of an increased number of people and become known for being on the cutting-edge of the intersect between marketing and new technology – a valuable reputation to have when trying to attract new clients in a competitive tech-centered locale.
Stacking with Other Technology
Beacons are innovating real estate marketing on their own, but they can also be combined with other tools to create a “technology stack” and further improve their effectiveness.
For example, brokers can spice up a property tour by installing beacons throughout the space and then handing prospective tenants a tablet that will present specific details about each different area during the tour.
Alternatively, iBeacons could be used in conjunction with technology like Floored’s 3D modeling to offer real-time visualization of different floorplan and furniture configurations during a walkthrough.
Gathering Useful Data
Beacons aren’t just useful for sharing marketing material with prospective tenants – they can also be used to gather data for comparing different properties, such as by measuring how much time individuals are spending interacting with each location. Users can also choose to have pictures and property details emailed to them, which provides an effective method for capturing valuable leads.
Combined with motion sensors, the collected data can show what percentage of passersby are interacting with a beacon. Integrated sensors can also gather information about vehicular and pedestrian traffic counts which can be sorted by time and day – data which is worth its weight in gold for retail brokers and their tenants.
Still in its infancy, we’re just beginning to discover all of the practical applications of iBeacons in the commercial real estate industry. From functioning as a 24-hour on-site marketing assistant to gathering valuable data and capturing leads, tech-friendly brokers are already using this budding technology to gain a leg-up on the competition and make their spaces stand out to the early-adopting tech-savvy crowd that driving real estate growth all across the country.