Speakers: Ronn and Martin.
Guest: Wojciech Kalembasa – CEO at LCPMedia.com
Ronn: Hello, hello you guys. Let’s get ready for another great episode of the multifamily podcast with Ronn myself and Martin.
Martin: What’s up.
Ronn: Today we are going to be talking to Wojciech Kalembasa, I’m so excited. He’s the CEO at LCP media, which many of you probably know previously known as LCP 360, which, by the way Wojciech, I still call it LCP 360, I’m sorry.
Wojciech: It’s alright.
Ronn: We will be diving into Wojciech entrepreneurial journey. I’m so excited about that, because I think we have some similarities, how LCP creates digital content for our industry, and obviously highlighting their newest product Tour Builder, Go, which is a unit level tours. I’m so excited about that. And I want everyone to please welcome multifamily podcast. Wojciech.
Wojciech: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me and excited to talk to you guys today a little bit about the industry and what we’re up to here.
Martin: Yeah, we’re definitely glad to have you on the show. So Ronn and I are really interested in your backstory, you know, what was your entrepreneurial journey like before Tour Builder, formerly known as Panoskin and LCP media?
Wojciech: Oh, man, you know, it seems like a lifetime ago, but I actually started my career in banking, as a mortgage broker. And the idea to build this digital marketing agency. LCP media that we have today came from helping my real estate agents, market their listings. And so, I was out there, you know, creating, doing photography, creating listing sheets, back when listing sheets were a thing, and helping them promote the property through photos and through, you know, other types of digital media. And in 2011, I came across a virtual tour. And I thought it was the greatest thing ever. And so, I decided, why not build a business around this. And it was interesting, because this was 2011. Right after the crash, everything was just kind of the economy was really, really tough. A lot of people were losing their jobs. And, you know when I shared my concept with my brother, Tom, who’s my partner, he’s like, I can sell this, this is amazing. This is what the markets going to need. So perfect timing to start a new business. That was back in 2011. So that’s kind of the start.
Ronn: That’s awesome. So, can you speak on the evolution of Tour Builder, what it started out initially, and how it evolved to where it is today?
Wojciech: Yeah, definitely. So, when we started, we were just, you know, we were kind of a photography agency focused on doing photos, and creating virtual tours, using, you know, third party software that we found. But at one point, we decided to build the tool, and we call the Panoskin. So, it was originally called Panoskin. And originally, its purpose was for Google Street view. So, when we started the company, Google, at the same time started this initiative, which is over a decade ago, to start collecting indoor data of public spaces. So, they wanted to map the entire world. Right. And so, they were going indoors. And in order to sort of accomplish this huge initiative of theirs, they needed to partner with third parties, and we actually became one of their largest agencies in the Midwest. So, we were out there, just mapping interiors of all different types of spaces. So, this is pre multifamily. We were doing small businesses, you know, bars, restaurants, we were were shooting hotels. And then slowly we got into the commercial real estate space. And we were actually the first company to ever upload commercial real estate 360s, or in this case, apartments onto Google. And so, you know, now you have, you have this data. And, you know, Tour Builder was really built or previously known as Panoskin, Tour Builder was built to push the 360s that we’re recreating onto Google. But the question is now what? Right and so that evolved into creating custom experiences that we see today. So, Tour Builder Pro, is what you’re able to experience on a property website, where you’re walking through a property and exploring all the key elements that that property has to offer. And so, Tour Builder kind of evolved from being the Street View, Google Street view tool, to now creating these custom virtual experiences on property websites. And most recently, we went from Pro to go, and Pro is our sort of next step in this sort of evolution of Tour Builder, where we’ve created a mobile application that is going to allow or allows on site folks to create their own virtual tours. So, Tour Builder in general is the rental industry new agile hub for creating, organizing, storing, managing, and tracking all your digital and visual marketing assets. So, we like to say it’s from one unit to an entire community.
Ronn: That’s amazing. I remember when we met you guys, I think it was, we came on the market in 2013. And I remember Martin pulling me over and said, Ronn, you have to come and meet this company, I think it was like 2013, 2014, like NAA or an optic or one of them. And we were so enamored with what you guys were doing and bringing to the multifamily space. And so, to see just this evolution of where it started, and what we’re doing now is amazing.
Martin: Definitely big fan since the beginning, I do remember seeing your booth. And just like, you know, this is like this is it, this is where we, you know, we got to make sure our clients know about this, and, you know, spread that love.
Wojciech: We were just very excited about this new tech, and we wanted to be different. We wanted to sort of change how properties are being viewed, because I saw the impact that had on, you know, small residential properties. And when we kind of came across multifamily, we’re like, oh, my God, this is the missing piece of marketing in these places online. So yeah, I appreciate that, guys.
Martin: Yeah. So here at Apartment SEO, we understand the importance of having great digital content for your website and other digital assets. Without these your website traffic and leads would probably take a big hit. So, knowing this, how does LCP media help the multifamily industry with creating compelling and immersive digital content?
Wojciech: Yeah, great question. I mean, so you know, if we think about the customer journey, it begins online, especially in the post COVID world that we live in now. And we start learning about that property. So, what LCP does is we want to learn about the property that we’re working with. Right? So, is it a lease up? Is it a stabilized property? Are we talking about a class A, B, or C property? How many units does it have? Is it affordable or is it a market rate? Right? Once we get those answers, we cater or create an offering or solution for that property. So, for example, if we’re working with a lease up, one of their most important things is to be able to market the property before the doors open. So, several months before the doors open, they want to be able to get out there and market the property. And so, we’re able to recreate or create a digital experience of that building using 3d. So, it aids the marketing folks in that pre-leasing process. Because at the end of the day, our job is to, you know, help drive the prospect further down the sales funnel, and increase lead to lease conversions. So, by that we’re creating more educated buyers, so that the answer team can focus their efforts elsewhere.
So let me give you an example. If we, for example, take a prospect that’s coming off the street and entering one of these properties and hasn’t seen it, hasn’t seen any photos, that prospect is coming in with no information. And the leasing agent will need to spend a lot of time educating that prospect about that property, the community, the options that they have available to them, and so on, versus someone that starts their journey online, and is able to explore all the key elements of property using a Tour Builder Pro Tour, for example. And furthermore, being able to not only see those key elements of the property, but actually being able to go into every single unit that’s available. And now that person coming on site is coming in way more educated, and they know exactly what they want. And all that’s left is for the leasing agent to fill in the gap and get them signed up. So online content, if it’s done right, dramatically decreases the time a leasing agent has to spend with a prospect on site. And the other thing to consider here is that prospects have plenty of options now, right? They’re shopping online, there’s a ton of options being thrown at them left and right. And so, they need to be able to find the information online and quickly. They may never even visit you if you don’t have the right content available. So, it’s crucial. It isn’t a nice to have any more. It’s a must have.
Ronn: That’s amazing and talk about like just prequalifying the client themselves. And obviously, we all are consumers at the end of the day. I always say that, you know, we want the information at our fingertips to be able to make the decisions. And so, I think this just definitely helps him solidify, like I’m making the right choice. And I’m officially using my time wisely by going to a property that I already love.
Wojciech: Exactly, exactly.
Ronn: That’s awesome. Well, thank you for helping with that journey. We appreciate it when it comes to our leads that are seeing your products. We want them to be qualified and we want them to sign the lease once they get there, right, if not online already.
Wojciech: That’s right.
Ronn: So, there was a lot of buzz around and NAA, around apartments. coms new iOS, the listing of the future. And I know that LSP media also released their newest product Tour Builder Go, that you were talking about, and even provided the technology needed to shoot their own unit level virtual tours. What I’m interested in for the audience to learn is can you share some thoughts on the newest initiative and how it works for them?
Wojciech: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, so at NAA apartments.com announced the listing of the future, and, according to them, 94% of renters depend on unit level detail to help them make their or make prospects make their decisions online. And so, the question though is, how do you get that unit level detail? Right and so, LCP media makes it easy to create unit level virtual tours with Tour Builder Go. And there is a sort of the way Tour Builder Go works, it’s a self-shot solution. Now we do have an option for folks that don’t want to shoot the unit’s themselves, they can leverage the network that we have available to them. But really, it’s designed to be super easy, super quick, and on demand. Meaning there is a kit that a property can purchase, the kit consists of a one shot 360-degree camera, it’s about the size of a cell phone, you mount that camera onto a tripod or monopod. And you connect it to our Tour Builder app. So, Tour Builder app is something that we also designed in house and really tailored it for multifamily. It’s a super easy app to use that allows you to essentially, once you connect the app to the camera, and you identify the unit that you’re shooting, or first you identify the property that you’re in, then you identify the unit that you’re shooting, and then you’re pretty much off to the races. So, as you’re shooting, you’re capturing 360 images, we do definitely train folks before they go out and start shooting because we want them to sort of understand how to capture the unit and how to place the camera, and so on, to make sure that the end result is you know, it’s beautiful, and it works well. But at the end of the day, we’ve built a tool that’s really easy to use now. There’s more information on our website. So, if anyone’s interested, they could go to LCPmedia.com/tourbuildergo and, you know, request a demo and see how the process works.
Martin: Thanks. So, I mean, we know there have been a lot of strong growth in self-service type, services and platforms, what are some challenges that you guys’ face, you know, having to give this technology to the on-site team, have them make their own videos, I’m sure you’ve had some successes, where they are, you know, they’re really happy with the results. And then sometimes, they not, might not be as tech savvy in regard to like, just setting up the thing and trying to shoot a video, any challenges there?
Wojciech: Sure. So, you know, my thought is that on site, folks are always going to worry about adopting new technologies. But that’s why we make sure we train everyone before they even start. And so, you know, when shooting, it takes about 15 minutes to capture a unit, and you know, once those 15 minutes over, and you’re done capturing, you’re basically uploading those images up into the cloud. And we handle everything from that point on. And within 48 hours, your tour is live and ready to be shared. Now, kind of best practices and what we’ve learned because we have demoed this and piloted this with some major, you know, players in the market management companies, ownership groups, and so on, what we realize is that the marketing manager needs to be heavily involved, right, there’s no going around this. And then also buy in from the onsite team is also very crucial. This is where the marketing person really kind of plays a big role. They get that onsite team on board, because really, what we’re trying to make sure is that we educate everyone about the benefits of unit level tours. And so, if they understand the benefits, and they’re going to want to do it.
The other piece is making shooting available units’ part of the turn process and including it in the turn checklist. You know, any new technology that eventually becomes a sort of ongoing process has to be sort of embed into the current process. And so we’re we think, and believe that Tour Builder Go sort of like integrate seamlessly as into that turn process. So, another piece is understanding timing and when to shoot, right so, you know, when does that leasing person go out and capture this unit? Well, the leasing team knows when the unit will not be renewed, and so they can easily plan to shoot that unit as soon as maintenance is done turning it, you know, once the walls are repainted carpets repaired the property, you know, the unit looks perfect. That’s the moment you go in and you capture this unit level tour. And, you know, even if the property is not being renewed and they already have a lease signed, we still recommend that that they capture that unit, because the goal here is to capture every single unit available in the building, once they’re captured, then you have this database of units, and you have this content that you can use for years down the road. And one other important thing, you know, for us to make sure that the onsite teams understand is that there’s no extra cost really to using this, right.
So, once they, once they sign up, this subscription for multifamily is unlimited, meaning they can go out there and shoot every single one of their units. And that’s sort of the goal here is to capture every single unit in the property. Because really like one of the you know, the other pieces that I didn’t mention earlier is, you know, we’re multifamily, the industry is changing. You know, there’s a lot of talk about centralized leasing, there’s a lot of talk about on site folks not having enough time to, you know, spend it where really is necessary. And so when it comes to centralized leasing, for that to be successful, you know, let’s say in a scenario, you have one person, one leasing agent, that now instead of dealing with one property, they’re dealing with four or five properties, you know, if they don’t have these types of tools to use when they’re marketing the space, when they’re showing the units, that model is never going to work. So, yeah, you know, yeah, I think at the end of the day, you know, we know exactly what we need to do to make this successful. And, you know, by offering that support that training ahead of time before that kit even hits the hands of any on site person, you know, that’s going to be, you know, crucial to make sure this is a success.
Ronn: I think that’s amazing. And the other thing is that you guys, because you’ve already done it, you can definitely support it, it’s not like you created this software, just, you know, out of the get go, and then supporting it like you’re fit, you physically have done it for years already. So you can totally support the onsite team and, and marketing managers and all of the above. So I think that’s the ticket.
Wojciech: Yeah, we’ve done, you know, there’s what we have, well over 5000 properties that we’ve created, Tour Builder Pro tours for, that’s where we send out a professional photographer to capture the elements of the property, so that they can, you know, showcase it on their website. So, we definitely have a lot of experience in that space, this is going to be a little bit different, because you’re asking the on-site team to participate. But I think at the end of the day, once this process is embedded in part of that return process, it’s going to become something that, you know, folks can really do quickly and easily. And it’s going to pay dividends for years. Because, you know, no doubt in my mind that folk that are shopping online, they’re looking for that information. And if you’re giving them that unit level detail, they can see the unit that they actually can lease or live in, right, that’s going to help in that decision making process. And one other important thing that I really do want to mention is because we’re pushing this prospect further down that sales funnel, right, because they’re coming more educated, because that leasing person is not going to have to spend as much time with them on site, showing them several units and spending hours, you know, trying to sell them on this property that leasing personnel has time to devote to the retention of their existing tenants. There’s now more time and resources available to dealing with other operational things that might be occurring at the property. So really, that, you know, it really pays dividends in a lot of different areas.
Ronn: Absolutely. And we know that they definitely have a lot to worry about and to focus on, you know, in the in-person experience, right. And consumers today are demanding more and more of a greater experience to set themselves apart.
Ronn: So that’s amazing. Yeah, and the other thing that I was gonna say is that I think that does it also led to the property and or the company having more creative control, like they definitely can get more intimate with the actual shoot, and they know the elements of the property and each respective unit probably more intimately than any other vendor with all due respect. You know what I mean?
Wojciech: Oh, yeah. 100% and you know, and I’m glad you asked, you mentioned that because, you know, with the Tour Builder app, we don’t want to limit them to just the 360s, they can capture 360s, but they can also capture video. They can also capture stills and because it’s them shooting it and like you said they know the property intimately, they can really focus, you know, that capture in those areas that they want to showcase online. And ultimately, you know, we collect all this information. And now we’re hosting it within one location that, you know, these teams can have access to. So, yeah, no, it was a great point.
Martin: I have a quick side question here. So, do you, are you able to with the Tour Builder Go upload the video there? Can you take the video files and put them on YouTube hypothetically?
Wojciech: Yes, yeah, definitely, I think. The process, the way it works is, when you’re capturing the 360s stills or videos, they actually get stored on your mobile device, because you are using a mobile device to sort of control that process. So once everything is stored on your phone, you’re essentially uploading it up into our cloud, so it gets processed by Tour Builder. But ultimately, that content remains on your phone. So, you have two options. At that point, you can either distribute the content through Tour Builder, or you can distribute the content, you know, in any other way that you want. Because ultimately, you do own what you just shot, you do own those 360s, those stills, those videos, you can really distribute them, you know, however you wish.
Ronn: That’s amazing. And I know, Martin, why you asked that question is because we’re always advocating for content, content and content, right? And YouTube, and you know, Bing, Google premier partners, Google is always recommending to us, like get more video, get video. So, the entire industry can benefit from having some amazing video and, you know, using it for multi purposes.
Wojciech: 100%. Content is key.
Ronn: Content is king. Yeah, totally. Alright, so switching gears a little bit, but relevant, obviously, we all know how Virtual Staging and 3d renderings have changed the game. No more, you know, back in when I was on site, we’d least expensive rental furniture. But you know, and instead, communities can create their own floor plans with whatever they want inside. And honestly, the other thing I want to talk about is, it’s unbelievable, how real these 3d renderings are looking nowadays, like I seriously can’t tell the difference many times over, right? So, can you speak on any advancements around Virtual Staging and the renderings from your perspective?
Wojciech: Sure, yeah. I mean, overall, like anything, I think, you know, as technology evolves, things are getting, you know, faster, more cost effective. And in the case of 3d, more realistic. So, for our least sub projects, we can literally recreate an entire community in 3d, and showcase it online before one brick is laid. And, you know, I’ll tell you, you look at some of these renderings, and sometimes you have to give it a double, double take or double look, because you can’t really tell, is it real? Is it 3d? And when we’re taking, you know, we’re also taking empty still photos and staging them with photorealistic models. And where you literally can’t tell if it’s stage, right, so, but the whole point of this, the whole point of 3d and why you know, why we do this and why it’s necessary is, you know, like photography 3d is about telling the story, right, it has to look beautiful, it has to look realistic. And if it does, it’s going to evoke some emotional reaction from that viewer or prospect in this case. And that’s what we’re really going for, we’re helping people make decisions based on what they see online. So, we’re trying to tell a story. And you can’t really tell a story with an empty unit. And so, like the old saying goes, right, and it still holds true, an image is worth 1000 words. So, we’re trying to make sure that your image is saying what you want it to say. And we do that we accomplish that by things like 3d.
Martin: I really do trip out on how great these 3d photos are looking, you know, but overall, though, when it comes to like Google business profile and increasing the time users spend on there, we always suggest having 360 tours on Google business profile and the website. This helps with the time on site and increasing engagement on Google, sending more positive signals to increase the rankings. Do you have any data insights on average time users utilize your 360 tours and what type of leasing activity usually comes from it?
Wojciech: You know, so when it comes to Google, you know, I really don’t, I don’t care what anyone says Google is king, right? And over 90% of searches start on Google. So ever since and here’s a little bit of data from the internet, right? So ever since the introduction of Google search in 1997. The worldwide market share of search engine has been lopsided, right, Google has dominated the search engine market, maintaining you know 92.4% market share, you know, as of June of last year, so if you’re not on Google, you pretty much don’t exist. Right? And so, what we’ve seen is that 360 content on Google Drive, a significant impact on impressions to your list that your listings get, right, we don’t know, exactly like, if we’re going to put a number on it, we don’t know exactly the impact between 360s and stills and videos on a Google listing. But we do know that, as you’re uploading content to Google, and you develop a sort of more robust Google listing, your impressions begin to increase. Right. And you know, when we talk about, like, what’s important in multifamily is, you know, everyone talks about the customer journey, right. And if the customer journey begins online, you know, 9 out of 10 times, it’s going to begin on Google. And you want to make sure you’re not leaving gaps, right in that journey, right. It’s all about creating an educated consumer.
So, if they’re seeing, so before, they’re even hitting your website, before they’re even going to your virtual tour on your site, or looking at your units, they’re starting online on Google. And so, you have to have rich content there for them to consume. And that eventually will lead them to your website where they can get away more robust experience of the property. And now with, you know, unit level tours, really taking them down to the unit that’s available. What I can say is, you know, we’re seeing on average, across the industry, when someone is interacting with a virtual tour that they interact with, on average, about 10 scenes. So, they’re going to 10 different areas, before they’re dropping off. And by drop off, I mean, they’re either, you know, taking some sort of action outside of that virtual tour. And, you know, one other thing we do know, without a doubt is that the most activity on these virtual tours are model units. And that’s, you know, where everyone’s going there. They want to know where they’re going to live, they want to know what their units going to look like. And that’s why, you know, again, kind of looping back to Tour Builder Go, and the importance of capturing unit level data is, that’s what buyers want to see, or prospects want to see.
Ronn: That’s amazing. And yeah, definitely, if you’re not on Google, then you’re not, you don’t exist. Right? Which is exactly why we were enamored from day one. And like I said, I mean, I remember the day and how Martin said, dude, you got to stop what you’re doing come and see what these guys are up to, because it’s everything that we are promoting on our end, and don’t have the resources or the bandwidth, you know, to focus on this, which is why we’ve always loved working with LCP and for those that are on the listening in, our audience, definitely want to share that we are so excited to be channel partner with LCP media, we’ve always endorsed them, whether with a formal partnership or not, it wasn’t about that, it was just about the fact that we endorse the content them themselves, and our industry using them. So really excited about that. And the biggest reason why is because we really understand the benefit of the immersive experience with your content. And obviously, the power of our websites and the digital marketing services that we can offer. And when used together, it’s really a fully integrated digital marketing experience. And so, I want to say thank you, again, to you guys, for just continuing to grow in our industry and giving, not just our clients, but I mean, the overall end user the experience that they need, and to be honest, at this point, I think you mentioned earlier, and they demand in a post COVID world, right?
Wojciech: 100% and, and look that you know, the virtual experience is just one channel, right? And having multiple mediums and working together, is crucial. And that’s why it’s crucial that teams like LCP media and Apartment SEO work together. Because we want to create, you know, that fluid, perfect journey for that prospect. And that’s what we’re doing together. And what’s really excited about our industry in general, and what I’ve seen, especially at NAA this year is, you know, the walls are starting to come down between, you know, third party providers or vendors, whatever you want to call us, right, the walls are coming down, and we’re all starting to talk to one another. We want to work together. And, you know, for the industry, that’s a huge step forward. It’s amazing, right, it’s great and so, very excited about the partnership, very excited about working with you guys. And, you know, it kind of leads me to the saying that I always, I love to say this because, you know, it reminds me of what’s happening in multifamily. And that’s rising tide lifts all boats. Right. And that’s what we’re doing together by working together to create that, that great experience for prospects online.
Martin: Yeah. 100% So, Wojciech, it was really great having you on the podcast, on The Multifamily Podcast. Please keep us updated with any new advancements in your product line. We definitely look forward to continuing and growing our partnership with you and your company, LCP Media. So, guys, please check them out, LCPmedia.com. And you can either reach out to them or you can reach out to ApartmentSEO.com And we can definitely get you pointed in the right direction. Also, if you want a free marketing analysis from a SEO, you just got to go to ApartmentSEO.com and register, get your free marketing analysis there. And then we can provide you a full-on demo of our services. So, guys, it was great having the conversation today and look forward to more in the future.
Wojciech: Yeah, Ronn, Martin. Thanks again, guys. Thanks for having me. And yeah.
Ronn: This has been awesome.
Wojciech: Yeah, it’s been it’s been great, keep on doing it.
Martin: We got to keep it rolling and keep the MFP podcast going.
Wojciech: That’s exactly right.
Ronn: Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much.
Wojciech: Thanks, guys.
Ronn: Alright. Bye.
Martin: Take care.