Matt Weirich is CEO and Co-founder of Realync, the leading video leasing and engagement platform for the entire resident lifecycle.
It’s not shocking to hear that content consumption habits have changed over the past year, with digital experiences at the top of the list. But this statistic may shock you: In 2019, the number of digital video viewers worldwide amounted to over 2.6 billion viewers and is projected to reach over 3.1 billion by 2023.
Now, imagine how difficult accessing the web would be for people with visual and hearing disabilities. Luckily, innovative and adaptive technologies are rising to help with online accessibility for those with disabilities, including property technology companies.
Since starting Realync in 2013, I’ve been in the thick of the proptech emergence and evolution over the last eight years. In that timeframe, I’ve been fortunate to see proptech companies that have come (and gone) and how they have evolved as consumer demands and real estate company needs have evolved. One of those significant evolutions over the last year is the importance of and need for accessibility in digital property technology.
Accessibility In Property Technology
Accessibility is a hot topic for real estate professionals, and getting this right should be a top priority to ensure equal opportunity across all prospects and clients. Real estate and multifamily professionals need to improve accessibility with all video and online exchanges between leasing reps and prospects and/or residents. Because if you remember right, digital experiences are in demand.
With more digital experiences at our fingertips comes increased exposure to the chances of an inaccessible website or video touring experience. But I don’t say that to scare you; leasing professionals can accommodate anyone who wishes to access, browse and interact with the property’s website and digital content.
Let’s explore the changes real estate companies and teams and proptech companies including ours are making to enhance and improve digital experiences for everyone.
How To Make Your Digital Experiences More Accessible
• Property technology: The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the most up-to-date recommendation for making web content more accessible to individuals with disabilities. When partnering with a property technology company, inquire about its compliance with WCAG. Product offerings that indicate the company is WCAG compliant would include closed captioning, complete transcripts of spoken dialogue and more.
• Researching: There are many property technology companies out there offering great virtual and digital experiences, but not all provide built-in WCAG as part of their standard offering. This can leave you still needing to work with another provider in order to comply and provide the best video and leasing experience for your prospective residents. So make sure to do your research in advance and know what you’re getting (or not getting).
• Training: It’s essential to understand how your teams can comply with WCAG best practices. To do that, ask about whether the property technology of choice is equipped to help train your leasing professionals.
Now, what if video leasing isn’t a part of your leasing professionals’ marketing strategy? That’s fine; you should then turn your focus to your property website and other digital assets to ensure those all conform to WCAG as well.
With the rise in virtual leasing and consumer demands, it’s highly suggested to add some sort of rich media experience — a video or two at a minimum — to your property website for consumers to engage with. According to a survey published by Hubspot this year, 87% of marketers say video provides them a positive ROI, and almost as many agree that video has a “direct, positive impact on sales.” So this is quite an important, relevant medium for communicating a message to your online audience.
There’s a big focus on video right now for a reason. That’s because it works. Prospect preferences and behaviors are changing. Last March, one brokerage saw a 494% increase in requests for video tours of properties. And to think just 10 years ago prospects didn’t even think to ask for that!
Property Technology Companies’ Conformance With WCAG
Many property technology companies on the market help solve pain points your leasing professionals, prospects and residents may feel. Property technologies may differ slightly, but in general, the foundational structure is to accommodate everyone’s needs in an efficient, effective way. So, conformance to the latest web accessibility guidelines should be at the top of the list when deciding which property technology solution should be your next partner.
Whether your property uses a hybrid approach to leasing and engaging with prospects and residents through video or your focus is on your property website, these experiences should conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The best way to do that? Equip your leasing professionals with the proper property technology that does it for you.
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