Presented By: VTS
Commercial Real Estate Marketing Is (Finally) Moving Online Thanks to VTS Market
It’s impossible to know which of the changes COVID-19 has caused to our way of life will become permanent.
But in the business world, the pandemic has shined a glaring light on previously existing inefficiencies or inadequacies – particularly for processes conducted without the help of technology. In cases like this, changes made to accommodate remote working and to keep companies in business are establishing a roadmap for a new way of operating that streamlines everyday processes and designs permanent new business practices by bringing them online.
Office leasing and the marketing of space is one area seeing this sort of revolutionary change right now, thanks to a new platform called VTS Market.
VTS, the commercial real estate industry’s leading leasing and asset management platform, unveiled VTS Market in June, with many of CRE’s most prominent owners, including Brookfield Properties, Tishman Speyer, RXR, Empire State Realty Trust and Oxford Properties Group, already on board.
The product’s adoption at launch has been so rapid and all-encompassing that it’s fair to say VTS Market signifies a sea change in the way office space is marketed, finally bringing office leasing into the 21st century.
VTS Market is the commercial real estate industry’s first integrated online marketing platform, enabling landlords and their agency teams to market and lease available spaces remotely for the first time. The platform eliminates the need for tenant rep brokers to tour hundreds of physical office locations when showing space, as it provides over 250 data points on every property, plus professionally shot video and 3D representations that all but place the potential tenant in the physical location. Instead, brokers can share these spaces virtually and create an informed shortlist of locations to visit in person before making a final decision. VTS built VTS Market with the input of leading tenant rep brokers like Peter Riguardi, chairman and president, New York Tri-State Region, JLL, and Robert Alexander, chairman, NY Tri-State Region, CBRE.
While the benefits of this during COVID-19 are obvious, the leasing industry was already moving toward more visual and virtual representations of space throughout the leasing process. There’s every reason to believe that the shift to online marketing of spaces enabled by VTS Market will remain in force long after the life-changing effects of COVID-19 are behind us.
A recent poll of almost 250 office workers conducted by VTS found that 70 percent of U.S. tenants, and 82 percent in New York City, would feel uncomfortable doing an in-person tour of office space. Eighty percent of respondents said they would prefer taking a virtual tour of a space to qualify it before touring the space in person.
“VTS’ platform allows office landlords to manage all of their tenants, including their entire leasing pipeline,” said Nick Romito, CEO and co-founder of VTS, which manages more than 12 billion square feet of commercial office space including over 60 percent of national Class A office space and 65 percent of the Manhattan market. “Because our market share is so encompassing, we decided to take all that inventory and build a platform for owners to publicly market to tenant rep brokers and their customers. It’s the first first-party marketing platform in our industry, meaning that the inventory listed there is coming right from the owners or the agents of those buildings.”
The accessibility and integration of so much valuable data gives any landlord or tenant rep broker using VTS Market an automatic competitive edge.
“On the ownership side, all the existing platforms that they’re trying to market from offer zero ROI. Whether an owner spends $300,000 on a building website or $20,000 on a broker event, they can’t tell you if those converted into any kind of deal activity,” said Romito. “With this platform, they see every single lead happening in real time, and because they track all their deals in our system, they’re able to understand how things convert. So they can see that this many brokers toured the space virtually and converted X number of leases over the course of this amount of time. That never existed before.”
The automation of the process and the streamlined online presentation also results in a massive savings of time and money for landlords.
“Without VTS Market, the process for an owner to go to market is extremely manual and completely offline,” said Romito. “They have to have meetings to determine how to market the space — what do they do, what brochures do they use, who’s getting emailed? With VTS Market, all of that is automated. The minute we see a lease expiring soon, they get an alert, and then it automates their data. We’ve automated the entire go-to-market process for them, which probably saves them a month of getting a space onto the market. And that saves a lot of dollars in the end.”
Tenant rep brokers can use VTS Market for free and can search offices by size, price, space condition (whether a space is pre-built) and submarket. They then have access to photos, videos, and/or 3D renderings of the space, plus information on office size and capacity, amenities, an in-depth history of the building, local transportation and nearby dining.
VTS Market also offers virtual test fits, allowing potential tenants to experience how a raw space could look built-out and furnished from their computer or phone.
The streamlining of data from the larger VTS database ensures brokers that the information they’re sending their clients about a space is accurate.
“Tenant rep brokers often can’t trust information about a space because it’s collected via survey, and therefore it’s incomplete,” said Romito. “Our data comes from the owners themselves, or from VTS walking the space.”
In fact, VTS Market was built specifically with tenant rep brokers in mind, giving them specialized tools to help attract business.
“We’ve devised many ways for tenant reps to take any space in our database and make it almost like a prospecting tool,” said Romito. “They can share it with multiple people. They can create digital tour books with that company’s logo on it. It’s really helping them catalog space, and then send it to their customers in a truly modern way.”
VTS Market is perfectly designed to help landlords and tenant reps get through the COVID crisis with business intact, and to be a resource whose importance and widespread use will only grow as the COVID threat fades from view.
“The world has changed — revolution is still long-term evolution,” said Romito. “The days of tenants going to see 50 spaces in person before they make a decision are over. They’re going to look for ways to automate at least some significant part of that process. This is the only way to do that.”