Virtual events have been sprouting lately thanks to the pandemic.
Ever since citizens were directed to stay home, event companies have been forced to design ways for annual functions to go on.
PropertyGuru kicked off their fully-online event, Asia Virtual Property Expo.
The exhibition is joined by many established developers across 10 countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, UK and Cambodia, to name a few.
Zooming Into The Expo
When you go into the site, you’ll land outside the expo’s virtual stadium.
Once you enter the building, you’ll see the various countries in their own respective halls.
Choosing a country’s hall will bring you into a familiar sight for exhibitions.
The booths in the rooms can be filtered by property types, where you can choose to only view those that showcase either landed properties, apartments, shoplots, condos, or others.
Its location filter will allow you to choose which state you’d like to see, and a price filter to select your budget range.
However, the latter seemed pretty redundant because once you go in to view the property’s details, you may not even be able to find the info for a listing’s price.
Viewing The Props
When you choose a booth, you’ll be met with an avatar standing by a podium whom you can chat with.
Each booth is also decorated with a few posters, meant to illustrate the different listings provided by the company.
Clicking on the information icon will bring you to each listing’s details.
There, you’ll find basic information about the project’s information, key points, and a short description about the property.
In terms of the details shown, most of the necessities are there.
Facilities in and around the property, length of tenure, size of the units, the property’s location (with a map), and the date the project will be ready.
You can also view the site plans for each unit advertised and compare them.
The expo also gives you the option to try 360° tours of the properties. Unfortunately, this feature was not very obviously placed and was inconvenient to find.
To access this feature, you’ll have to click on the first image in the project info tab.
Inside the tour, you have the option to roam around by clicking on the hovering target points.
It is worth noting that the virtual tours are hosted by external links and they each come with their own unique features like measurement tools, slideshows, or dollhouse views.
After looking through the listing, you can register your interest on the spot, or contact the person in charge via Whatsapp or Line to find out more about the property.
Time To Travel
Though the exhibition claims to showcase over 300 listings from different countries, not all the booths will show details about their listings.
If the details aren’t available, the message will pop up.
This was the case for many of the international booths outside of Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Plus, different countries will also present their information in their respective languages.
In Thailand, details will appear in Thai, while Indonesia’s will be in Indonesian.
Indonesia’s booths actually had one of the most different experiences.
When you click into a project’s details, you won’t be seeing any info about the property but instead, it’ll show you the loan options available from Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI).
It’s Something, But Not Quite There
The virtual expo is a great step in bringing IRL events to the digital sphere.
PropertyGuru’s concept may be something we’ll see for other types of expos, like college and university fairs, for example.
Overall, it’s a step in the right direction moving forward with the new norm, but there’s much to be improved on.
For one, information shown about listings could be more uniform across all booths and countries alike.
PropertyGuru could set a template for the info each developer needs to provide, like prices for example.
If they leave critical ones out, they should be informed of their incomplete details.
This consistency would help attendees browse through the listings in a more systemised way and be able to expect the same amount of info throughout.
For unavailable listings, they should’ve been left out from the start. That way, attendees won’t waste their time trying to look at properties that aren’t even available in the first place.
The 360° tours could also be more obvious to find.
Because the button is so discreet, attendees may easily miss out on the fact that there’s more to be explored.
In addition, tours should also be hosted on the same site with the same features throughout. This would be useful for users to make decisions based on similar criteria.
For example, one of the tours we accessed had a tool to measure the size of a room. This useful feature didn’t appear in any other properties we viewed.
Lastly, the UX and UI of the event wasn’t the best experience. Slow loading times, messy presentation of details, and the overall design of the event space was just uninspiring.
Overall, it’s a great attempt from the group. However, I do find that browsing on PropertyGuru’s actual website would be a more pleasant experience because of its clean interface.
It would be interesting to see how the virtual event might improve next year, if PropertyGuru continues with it. For now though, it was an applaudable attempt and good move on PropertyGuru’s part.