June 2013

Roomkey

The concept of Listing Syndication is just as prevalent in marketing hotel rooms as it is with real estate inventory today.  There are many syndication sites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, Hotwire and hundreds more.  In theory, these sites were set up, in theory to HELP hotels, especially with last minute inventory to maximize their ability to sell room nights. Sound familiar?  The Theory failed. What actually happened though was that these sites have disintermediated consumers from corporate hotel sites like Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and others. It changed the way consumers shop and eroded hotel price points. Moreover, it eroded the ability for hotels to property plan staffing by not knowing how much of a last minute booking bounce they would get. Many people book their hotels on third party sites now, reducing the traffic and relevance of the hotel chain’s websites and costing them booking commissions. We have all had experience where we can get a lower prices on a hotel room on TripAdvisor than at brand sites like Hilton.com. In a new effort, hotels are chasing the development of a Realtor.com for hotel chains. I was just looking for a hotel room this morning at Hilton.com and I was taken to a new site called Roomkey.com.   This site appears to be a collaboration among many of the largest hotel chains – Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Wyndham and IHG(International Hotel Group).   According to its ABOUT US page, Roomkey.com aggregates rooms from the participating hotel chains, providing consumers a way to shop for a multitude of rooms directly from the corporate hotel chain sites.  It gives consumers an option to search for rooms in a particular market beyond just the corporate site they were searching on. For example, I went to the Hilton.com site while booking a room in Asheville. North Carolina. When I clicked on a listing detail page from the search, I was referred over to Roomkey.com to look at the entire available inventory in Asheville, NC for the date I was interested in. The hotel chains have, in effect, created their own mini-“IDX” system where cooperating companies offer their inventory on each other’s websites.  Seems a little late since the airline industry has cooperated like this for years. It would seem it could have moved to the hotel industry than it has. The real estate already has an aggregation strategy – it’s called IDX. There is one key difference between IDX and […]

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New View of Broker Social Media Strategy

by Victor Lund on June 26, 2013

One of the key shifts in online marketing that has occurred over the past 5 years is the evolution of social media marketing. What is astounding is how far removed most broker websites are from executing baseline social media strategies effectively. Brokers have largely ignored developing a social media strategy. Only a few have a social media director. Agents are aimlessly running wild on social media in ways that diffuse the impact of a common voice. Social Media calls to action are poorly represented on listing detail pages of broker websites Social Media is poorly leveraged on agent profile pages on broker websites. Brokers need to begin to think of the role their brand plays in social media. The first thing that needs to be deployed is the ability to listen to social media. This is called Reputation Management. Everyday, there may be people singing your praises or criticizing your services and you are not hearing them. It is a huge mistake. Here are 50 companies that sell social media monitoring software. Pick one and use it. http://socialmediatoday.com/node/1458746 Brokers need to begin to use social media to communicate internally as well as externally. If a broker cannot use social media to communicate to its staff and agents, then it cannot communicate externally as a unified group. Skilled agents and staff work as brand ambassadors through their social channels to promote a common good. To ensure they are sending out a unified broker message, companies must establish a strong framework for communication in house before ever reaching out to the public. Simply making sure that every agent with a Facebook account subscribes to the broker account for notifications can accomplish a lot. When the broker publishes something, agents are notified, they like it, and they share it. Many real estate brokers struggle with the notion that the agents are the brand. Prospects and Customers are increasingly taking to social channels to learn about brands, engage with them, and share their experiences with peers. They are looking for a human interaction to characterize their experience. If they cannot find anything, they are likely to go somewhere else. This simple fact makes social everyone’s job. If you are running a brokerage, it is time for you to take social media seriously. You must ensure that you have an established strategic plan, and that you train your agents on social collaboration. By working together, […]

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Imprev Roars with Mobile Marketing for Agents

by Victor Lund on June 25, 2013

Imprev has long been a behind the scenes type of company. Historically they partner with Giant franchises, Giant Brokers ,or Giant technology companies to deliver fully integrated and smart marketing solutions that agents access through their back office intranet. Imprev’s solution includes a full suite of print marketing like flyers and postcards; and a full digital marketing suite which includes digital flyers, online campaigns, listing presentations, virtual property tours, and lots of other features. Recently, they have been in the industry eye for the release of their new system (developed with help from 1000WattConsulting) and plunging headlong into mobile. Today, Imprev gives agents the flexibility to build, edit, and publish all of their real estate marketing pieces from any internet connected device. Moreover, because they have been around so long and worked with all of the Giant brands – they already have the brand creative on board along with the approved logos, fonts, and details like those pesky disclaimers. What is really cool is that they are now offering their service directly to agents. As of today, any agent can purchase Imprev directly with a 30 day money back guarantee. They are attending the Inman News conference – so that may be a good time to take a look at their product. They have lovely designs. Imprev is still clearly focused on enterprise level business where they enjoy market leadership. This effort allows them to reach a larger audience of agents are looking for solutions that smaller brokers are not offering in their product suite today. WAV Group also understands that they are rolling out solutions in partnership with MLSs and Mega board Associations. Here is the Imprev press release – scroll way down to see the new interface. iPad-Ready Imprev Marketing Center Now Available to Individual Real Estate Agents June 26, 2013– Bellevue, WA – Imprev today announced it has launched its all-new retail Marketing Center making its fully mobile marketing technology accessible for the first time to agents and brokers everywhere. The new Imprev Marketing Center is built on the industry’s most advanced and comprehensive marketing technology platform, providing real estate agents with multichannel connections to home sellers and buyers through mobile, social and a full array of online, digital and traditional marketing methods – all in one place. “One of the biggest requests from agents has been for fast, easy creation of marketing and advertising materials on their iPads to save […]

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A new tenor to integrated solutions for brokerage

by Victor Lund on June 25, 2013

I was in Seattle a few weeks ago visiting a broker when I encountered the Trulia team in the airport heading over to Market Leader. During the entire flight home my head spun with ideas about how these two companies would blend their talents to serve consumers and the real estate community better. We have clients who leverage these companies to their fullest, and others who don’t. It has never been the providence of a consultant to champion one strategy over another. Helping others execute the strategy that is right for their business to maximize their opportunity is our charge. Pick a plan and make it work. With that in mind, brokers are challenged with absorbing leads from multiple sources. LeadRouter does the best job, which is great if you are a REALOGY Franchisee, other brokers are left to their own devices. But LeadRouter ends at lead distribution – there are only minimal follow up campaign capabilities. This causes all sorts of data problems related to tracking, distributing, and reporting on leads by lead source, lead quality by lead source, and lead conversion by lead source. Listhub and reDataVault have done a respectable job of helping on the reporting side, but there is more ground to cover to perfect those reports and get a full picture. Lots of broker solutions providers have engineered lead rounding and lead management tools – but you often need a programmer named MacGyver to get it to work. Leads from publishers are all unique and require unique programing to capture the email lead, scrape the information, add it to the lead management data base, then try to do something with it. It is hard. Once you do have your leads being routed, you need a solution to manage those leads. Brokers who have end-to-end CRM solutions like LoneWolf’s brokerWOLF, Homes.com’s Homes Connect, CoreLogic’s AgentAchieve, or Real Estate Digital’s rDesk have these capabilities. They are all integrated. This is also true of Market Leader’s broker solution. Brokers who do not have lead management or drip marketing can also look to Market Leader, leadtrax or Imprev to fill the gap. These solutions all curate leads into customers for life by making it easy for brokers and agents to stay connected to providing information and service to the homebuying or selling consumer. Both Trulia and Market Leader know that lead conversion is the most valuable product they can deliver. […]

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Keller Williams/Urbain

  MONTRÉAL, Qc – June 24, 2013 Congratulations to Anne St. Dennis and Michel Beauséjour for moving from their executive positions in the MLS world to open their own Keller-Williams franchise! They have co-founded a Keller Williams francise in downtown Montreal under the name of KW Urbain. It’s an aggressive move for North America’s largest real estate franchise, a calculated move that took roughly three years as the Austin-based corporate head office familiarized itself with the language laws and Quebec brokerage act. “We saw the immense potential of opening a real estate franchise in Quebec that is completely broker-centric, learning based and treats our brokers like partners, to the extent that we share profits with our brokers and have open books at that,” said Beauséjour, KW Urbain’s spokesperson. Beauséjour said that before Keller Williams Realty Inc. was ready to commit, its principals had to better understand the cultural, language and legal aspects to Quebec.  He added that head office did not doubt the vigorousness of Montreal’s real estate market, noting that it rivals the other large international cities in Canada like Toronto and Vancouver, but with more modest real estate prices. Aside from the complexities of a different culture, the move into Quebec meant a major investment for Keller Williams Realty Inc. in the translation required to ensure that Montreal brokers had the same fundamental tools and training as elsewhere.  “Since Keller Williams Realty Inc. is a learning-based company, the costs associated with translating core courses, and marketing tools, developing a bilingual website, etc. all had to be assessed and approved.  That was probably what took the longest but we all recognized that to be successful, this was key,” underlined Beauséjour. Even the name, KW Urbain, was fundamental to the opening success of the first franchise in Quebec.   Beauséour stated that the name was chosen so as to be respectful of Quebec culture and reflecting its downtown location, in the heart of Montreal, at 1100 rue University. Keller Williams Realty Inc. has made incredible inroads into the real estate industry, growing to the number one position in North America, in terms of number of associates, with roughly 700 franchises and over 80,000 associates. KW Urbain’s St Dennis and Beauséjour see this as a plus and are planning for more expansion in Quebec in the coming years. St Dennis and Beauséjour are equal partners in the venture, complementing each other with […]

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The War That Few Are Watching

by Victor Lund on June 19, 2013

There is a War being waged between the leading portals today. They are fighting with all of their might to be leaders in consumer website traffic. Today, Zillow is in the lead with Realtor.com on their heals and Trulia not far behind. Homes.com is pacing with the pack too, and perhaps showed just how strong they are by climbing the rankings at a remarkable pace in 2012. In an announcement released yesterday, Move proclaimed victory at retaining their relationship with MSN.com, the portal operated by Microsoft. I tried to get information about the battle, but limited facts were made available. We do not know the details of the agreement, its price, or the length of the term. We just know that Realtor.com won. I can only suppose that Zillow and perhaps Trulia were in the bidding. There was a lot at stake in this battle. Had Zillow won, they would have distanced themselves far afield of Realtor.com. Had Trulia won, they may have been lifted beyond Realtor.com into second place for overall traffic. By no means am I an historian for our industry, but I do remember that Prudential Real Estate had a similar relationship with Yahoo.com. If my memory serves me correctly, the eRealty strategy cost Prudential about $35 million. I tried to find press releases about this to confirm or cite the facts, but failed – so take the $35 Million with a grain of salt. I do know that the Prudential paid handsomely to buy the position on Yahoo Real Estate, and that Zillow now maintains that important foothold. The REALTORS® of National Association of REALTORS® should be joyous, and join MOVE in celebration. Had the battle gone another way, a key member benefit would have been reduced, and the REALTOR® brand marketing may have been diminished. It is hard to say how these things work out. But there is an important appreciation of strategy here. Like our Nation, our industry rests on the foundation of the Freedom of Choice. The one thing that we know about portals is that none of them make very much money. What money they do make comes from agents and brokers. For sure, consumers flock to these sites at a pace of 100 million per month. It is a great hunting ground for buyers and sellers. You have a choice about where your listings go. You have a choice about where your advertising dollars go. As […]

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More MLSs launch FIND search from MOVE

by Victor Lund on June 17, 2013

Move spread the news this morning that MRED (Chicago) MLS PIN (Boston and most of Mass) and SFAR (San Francisco) have all entered into agreements to offer the FIND product. If you are not familiar with FIND, it is a product that was the early candidate for the National Association of REALTOR’s Property Library. It ties all of the active listing data on Realtor.com to a suite of extensive property attributes ranging from demographic data to flood maps to airplane fly over zones and noise. The Find products sits at the top of the page when the agent is logged into the MLS, extending data access nationwide. The two cornerstones that agents love about Find include a Google-like natural language search bar and blazing speed. If you are interested in learning more about FIND for your MLS – reach out to your Realtor.com representative or Curt Beardsley. My understanding is that Move provides the product for free in exchange for a data license that allows them to display listings on Realtor.com (including sold data), and display to other MLS subscribers in the Find Network. The last word from Move regarding expansion of this product into new MLSs came from Trend (New Jersey) in January. Not sure if they have been intentionally quiet or not. It is a great product for any MLS that allows brokers to display solds in their IDX rules and regulations. There are three significant Data Licensing considerations for MLSs today. Realtors Property Resource from NAR; Data Co-Op from CoreLogic; and Find from MOVE. WAV Group drafted a paper describing these three Data Licensing initiatives for the Council of MLS. You can access the report called New Ways to Leverage MLS Data in the Reports tab on WAVGroup.com or try this link to the Google Doc. Published on 2013-06-17 06:15:38 Move’s FIND Application Goes Live For MRED And Signs New Agreements… — SAN JOSE, Calif., June 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — <- stripped tags -> SAN JOSE, Calif., June 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Move, Inc., (NASDAQ: MOVE) today announced that its FINDSM Application has gone live with Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) in Chicago. Additionally, it has signed FIND agreements with two industry leading MLSs: MLS Property Information Network, Inc. (MLS PIN) in Boston, and San Francisco Association of REALTORS® (SFAR) in San Francisco.  These three agreements will provide an additional 71,220 MLS members with the FIND Application’s natural language search functionality through comprehensive neighborhood, […]

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It’s a Kid’s World – Are you ready?

by Marilyn Wilson on June 12, 2013

Real estate concept.

I just watched a fascinating documentary called Consuming Kids highlighting how advertisers are tapping into the ever-growing purchasing power of children under the age of 12. According to the film, children directly control $40 Billion in spending and indirectly influence over $700 billion in spending. The documentary goes on to talk about how brands are trying to create relationships with kids as soon as they can to create life long relationships. They are trying to create young “super” consumers that will be committed to purchasing their products throughout their lifetime. In my days at Fisher-Price, we never thought about the purchasing power in as crass a way as the documentary I watched describes. However, we were clearly focused on capturing the interest of parents and their kids as soon as we could. There’s another VERY important change in family dynamics that needs to be considered too.  Children are much more involved in family decisions than they were when I was a child.  Our daughter has an influence on what we eat, where we shop, where we travel and even what car we purchased.  Victor was all about buying a Porsche until our daughter went in the tiny back seat and started screaming when the speaker, located right next to her ear, was blaring. She did not influence the purchase of our current home, but then again, she wasn’t alive yet!   When we talk about moving now, the first things we think about are her needs. What school would she go to?  What dance studio would she attend?   Would she like the backyard?   Would it be safe for her to ride her bike in the neighborhood? When I started thinking about it, I realized that I have not seen a lot of programs catering to building brand awareness with children.  What broker website has any information that is interesting to kids?   What materials do agents bring with them that could entertain kids to help them understand more about why they might like the neighborhood?  What companies have offered apps that engage kids in the real estate process?   It’s an area RIPE for innovation and for new thinking. Even more importantly, are we involving kids in the actual process of looking at homes? Do we ask kids’ their opinion about what kind of a room they would like or what activities are they interested in?  Do we have information about where the […]

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Challenge for Positive Change

by Marilyn Wilson on June 12, 2013

RoadToChange

I have been reflecting on what I observed at NAR’s Mid-year conference and I have to tell you that I am more than a bit disheartened. While there is more optimism than there was even a few months ago about the health of the market, there is more dysfunction than ever in “organized” real estate. Concern #1 – The Large Broker/MLS Conflict Since I’ve been involved in real estate I have observed tensions between large brokers and MLSs at least in some markets. The negativity and disillusionment shown between these two groups, particularly at the MLS Policy meeting, was epic.  Instead of trying to work together to solve challenges for real estate consumers, there was more blame gaming happening than I’ve ever seen.  Brokers expressed their serious concerns about the motivations, focus and service quality of the MLSs they work with around the country.  The most disappointing thing to me was that there is a lot of truth underlying their concerns. While I would like to say that every MLS does whatever it can to serve the needs of its brokers, the truth is that there are MLSs out there that do not provide the service and support they need to.  Some won’t supply data to brokers so they can fuel their own back office management systems, for example. Some MLS takes MONTHS to approve a new data feed, when it should take days or even hours to accomplish the task. Others have Boards that are dominated by agents, more concerned with fixing their favorite pet problem with the MLS system than they are with protecting the interests of even their own broker, never mind all brokers. At WAV Group, we are lucky to work with those MLS organizations that respect their brokers and do whatever they can to build productive, collaborative relationships, supplying technologies that are relevant, up to date and easy to use.  Even those organizations, however, still sometimes suffer from misunderstandings leading to mistrust with their customer base. Concern #2 – The Agent/Broker Conflict In other conversations at the NAR Mid-Year meetings, I heard about how agents don’t trust their brokers. Some agents refuse to use the technologies offered by their broker simply because they don’t believe that they can differentiate themselves if they use the same technologies as their peers. What many fail to realize is that it is not the technology that helps you break […]

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WAV Group Logo

In almost every RFP (Request for Proposal) process I facilitate I get asked the question, which MLS vendor and system is the best?  In every instance I say, it depends, there isn’t a single right system for everyone.  Unlike the waitress who tells you everything is good on the menu, I really am not trying to avoid the question.  I will openly discuss what we see as pros and cons of each system, but the truth is, the vendor that is right for one customer is not going to be right for another. There are many things to consider in arriving at the right choice and one huge thing to consider is the MLS vendor company culture and the culture of your MLS.  If you choose a vendor because you like their system but you find out you don’t really like the way they interact with you or their overall culture it can be a very frustrating experience.  On the other hand, if you are working with a vendor that you trust, and really mesh with in terms of the way you communicate and operate, it is easy to address issues and overcome the difficulties that will naturally come up. Determining the type of vendor culture that is right for you is a lot like determining an investment profile.  Do you feel safer with a large, solid company that has high market share or would you prefer to work with a medium or smaller company where you may have more direct contact with the real decision makers.  One may offer a sense of greater stability while the other may offer the perception of faster change and the ability to react to market changes.  Does the stability of a large company give you a comfort that is necessary to you or do you prefer working with a smaller company where there may be a more personal touch. In terms of technology, do you want to choose a company with a product that has been time tested for many years or are you more of a risk taker looking for leading edge capabilities.  If you are, then you should be the type of partner that is also willing to work through the first generation bugs and adjustments that come with the fun of being on the leading edge.  There isn’t a right or wrong here but there are realities that come along […]

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Share This Listing

by Victor Lund on June 10, 2013

Share this listing

WAV Group has gained the support of The Realty Alliance and The Leading Real Estate Companies of the world to revisit our Broker Website Effectiveness study performed in 2008. A lot has changed over the past 5 years, but much has remained the same. Our report will be published at the end of the month in advance of the Inman conference in San Francisco. As the MLS Issues and Policy Committee continues to debate a rule structure for Social Media, Here is an early insight that may forward the shape of what the rule is trying to solve for. Social Media marketing in real estate works, but not the way you think. The impact has less to do with brokers and agents publishing listings to social sites, and more about the ability for consumers to plug listings into their social pages. The ongoing drone social media experts in real estate eschewing the benefits of Facebook and Twitter at creating real, authentic, and meaningful relationships with consumers on those sites is not likely to end anytime soon. It is a bunch of retarded noise. Real research of agents indicates that social media is not effective at selling real estate. At least, it is not effective at selling real estate the way that the social media experts suggest. There are a number of top brokerage websites in America that have a feature on the listing detail page called “Share This Listing.” Share This Listing is the key social media strategy for brokerage online effectiveness today. Consumers want to communicate and store relevant real estate information on their social pages. Our research of traffic behavior on broker websites indicates that Facebook and Pinterest are powerful drivers of traffic and consumer engagement. Facebook was expected. Twitter was very disappointing. Pinterest was a huge surprise. Disclaimer: It is hard to determine what consumers are thinking when they use the Share This Listing feature without doing some consumer research. However, as a user of social media, I have a few suspicions. Twitter Fail I think that Twitter fails because there are no photos. When you share a listing on twitter, there is text and a link. Unless the text is delivered cleverly with catchy verbiage – nobody clicks. A click on Twitter is an investment in time that consumers will only make if they have a strong feeling that the click will be paid off. Again, […]

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