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Quayside on Mill: Interactive multimedia in the marketplace
Interactive Logic, Western Australia
IMM as a marketing tool
The rapid convergence of computing, video and telecommunications technology, has seen the emergence of information as the basis for competitive advantage in the business and commercial world. Our new found capacity to generate vast amounts of diverse and specialised information has in turn created problems for the potential consumer of this information - in terms of how to access the specific information required, in a digestible format, at the time that it is needed.
IMM, as a set of enabling technologies that allow us to exploit and manipulate data and data presentation, is proving itself to be a productive solution to the problem of how best to link the consumer of information with the information that he/she seeks. In the process, IMM has the power to facilitate decision making that is "close to the customer". It is this particular strength of IMM - its unique ability to embrace the user as an active participant, rather than as a passive viewer, that makes the medium such a powerful marketing tool - one that is essentially personalised, adaptive and responsive, to the point where the individual actually controls the delivery of information to satisfy their own needs, in their own time, at a desired level of complexity.
The application of IMM in the commercial real estate industry
In the specific arena of commercial real estate, IMM is proving itself to be an effective solution to the industry's need to introduce a more consultative style of business transaction in the areas of property presentation and marketing, information management and human resource services. Some of the ways in which IMM can work in these areas include:
Property presentation issues
- Shifting the emphasis of property presentation from a "sell" or "deal" focus to one of identifying and meeting prospect needs whilst increasing transaction completion effectiveness.
- Ensuring that a proven sales model, properly executed, lies behind each sales or marketing campaign.
- Shifting the emphasis of property presentation from one of "hype" and "show", to one of questions and informative answers regarding capital asset management.
- Subtlely "educating" the prospect as to what questions would be useful to ask about current or future capital asset management scenarios and then providing them with a means to access the answers, as required, in a format complimentary to their needs.
- Increasing the professional image of the commercial real estate salesperson by repositioning them as a capital asset consultant.
- Introducing flexible presentation of information, whether in terms of location or medium (eg having cost effective brochures that are always up to date and consistent).
Information management issues
- Establishing a property database on all past and present property, having low establishment costs, flexibility of access and marketable to prospects.
- Establishing economic, demographic and other data resources, with supporting analysis which can meet prospect needs rather than being "prepackaged" publications.
- Integrating information, analysis and consultative advice into a value added service which generates fee income, client satisfaction and a definitive corporate profile.
Human resource services issues
- Providing cost effective training for staff in all aspects of a consultative, information based, client needs driven style of business.
- Structuring and implementing consistent recruitment practices based upon behaviours recognised as predictors of on the job success.
- Developing consistent induction training practices that incorporate company mission, values and operating styles.
- Establishing consistent training which, over time, will facilitate cultural change within an organisation.
Quayside: The property
Quayside on Mill (renamed from the Dayton Plaza as part of the overall marketing strategy to lease the dormant property) is a 12 storey office tower at 2 Mill St in the heart of the Perth CBD. When Dayton Plaza Pty Ltd was put into the hands of the liquidator in September 1991, property consultants W M Kerr and Associates took on the task of creating an innovative campaign to get the building leased. Colliers Jardine were appointed leasing agents, with the Sydney based AIDC holding the first mortgage over the property.
Quayside's financier controllers invested some $300,000 in the marketing and leasing program, which incorporated an information centre, a refurbished foyer area, and an interactive multimedia touch screen sales presentation facility.
The marketing issue: Differentiation among equals
With several major office complexes in the Perth CBD competing for tenants, and an existing office vacancy rate of around 28%, marketing a building that was neither the biggest nor the newest, nor the most spectacular, presented a unique challenge for W M Kerr and Associates.
The central issue was how to differentiate Quayside as a leasing prospect in the minds of potential lessees, given that most marketing/promotional campaigns in the commercial real estate arena have a certain slick sameness about them (extravagant glossy booklets, and deal driven, transaction oriented pitches by Real Estate agents to targeted prospects).
Following a comprehensive cost benefit analysis of alternative approaches, a bold decision was taken: to focus on providing a service that elicited prospect needs and then responded to those needs, as identified by the prospect. Leasing as a process was characterised as a conversation, and interactive multimedia was conceptualised as an "aide-memoire" to that conversation.
The marketing solution: Prospect participation through IMM
JMG Marketing were contracted to carry out an intensive telemarketing survey of targeted companies in the CBD, to elicit their perceptions of the critical factors that determined a decision to take up an office lease. The outcome of this survey was a list of some 160 companies that could, or might, make a move within the following 18 months. The data from this survey formed the core of a multimedia touch screen sales presentation facility that was developed by Interactive Logic, a local multimedia development company.
Once the presentation was installed in a permanent suite within the Quayside building, a promotional campaign was launched. Selected groups of companies from the market survey received a hand delivered Bonsai plant, with an invitation to make an appointment to inspect Quayside and view the multimedia presentation.
The show suite housing the touch screen facility is designed as an intimate lounge setting, intended to create an inviting, friendly ambience in which the prospect could relax, be introduced to the touch screen, view the initial self running animation and then select those areas of interest to him/her, for more detailed elaboration and comparison.
During the presentation the "salesman" simply uses the structure of the multimedia program to allow the Prospect to follow up their particular concerns regarding issues in leasing a property. At the conclusion of the conversation, the prospect receives a personalised brochure, produced as an online response to his particular selection of issues for discussion. That is, the brochure contains only the information the prospect wants, in an attractive, graphical format. The effect is impressive - the Prospect accesses information in the order and at the speed desired, and interacts with the touch screen facility such that the outcome is, in effect, unique to that person. There are, of course, varying reactions on the part of prospects:
- Some become caught up in the technology supporting the presentation, rather than its application.
- A few find the whole facility slightly intimidating and need a gentle introduction to how it all works. However, once the prospect experiences initial screen contact,, all traces of 'computer phobia' evaporate, to be replaced, in most cases, by an appreciation of being in control of what is happening.
- Others, less reticent, can not resist touching the screen as soon as they come near it, thus inadvertently commencing the initial self running animation before it is appropriate to do so.
Quayside: The presentation
The interactive presentation, structured around four levels of complexity, commences by taking the prospective tenant through an animated tour of the types of problems faced by companies seeking an effective business location. The animation is in cartoon form, with voice over, capturing the dilemmas faced by "Tim the Tenant" as he naively attempts to grapple with a seemingly bewildering array of competing variables (balance of payments, client access, flexibility, lease expiry, relocation, facilities, landlord, amenities, corporate image, layout). The tone is humorous, light hearted, and puts the prospect at ease - no 'hard sell' is in evidence.
Figure 1: Tim the tenant
"Tim's Tour" facilitates a dialogue between the sales representative and the prospect, by enabling the prospect to identify those issues they feel most strongly about. The emphasis is upon having the prospect drive the presentation (by using the touch screen at his or her discretion), exploring those issues of personal importance, rather than having the salesperson attempt to sell the prospect on all features of the building.
The complete range os issues are displayed on screen at the completion of Tim's Tour, and the prospect has only to select (ie, touch) the issue or issues of particular interest, for the presentation to automatically elaborate typical concerns in these areas. The screen for "Amenities" is shown below.
Figure 2: Amenities problems
Once the prospect has explored interest areas in detail, the presentation moves to the third level, which reproduces all the issues, this time from the perspective of Quayside-on-Mill. If the prospect has chosen 'amenities' and, say, 'layout' as two areas of concern at level 2, then these are the two that are developed at the next level, illustrating what Quayside has to offer, using text, voice over and a series of illustrative colour graphics/photos (see below for Quayside's response to the 'amenities' issue). If the prospect then decides he wants to examine another issue from the original range displayed at level 2, a Help icon allows access to that level for re-selection of issues, and the process repeats, as often as the prospect wishes.
Figure 3: Quayside amenities
Once the prospect has moved through the software driven sequence of "situation - problem - implication - solution", he is ready to make some detailed comparisons between Quayside and selected other office towers in the Perth CBD. This section, called "Cityscan", commences with a map of the CBD which at a touch, zooms into a chosen city block and then again into a selected office complex. At each level of 'magnification' further comparative data is screened, or is on hand. This fourth level of the presentation:
- contains all the technical and financial information about Quayside.
- facilitates detailed comparison with other office locations.
- enables custom solutions to be developed by the representative and the prospective tenant.
- the screen shot below shows the main CBD, with Parking stations chosen from the Environs Menu at the top of the screen
Figure 4: CBD environs menu
By touching shaded areas of a particular block (eg two sites to the right of The Quayside building), the prospect can bring up the actual building occupying that space - in this case, Westralia Square. A low aerial shot of the building appears, linked to an adjacent map showing its location in the CBD.
Figure 5: Westralia SQ aerial shot
By touching the "Features" button at the top of the screen, further details of Westralia Square can be chosen and displayed via 10 more information buttons (eg lifts, typical floor layout, maintenance, security. At all times during "Cityscan", the prospect is able to jump out to the main CBD, or to a close up, and access other buildings in the CBD for further comparisons of features with those of Quayside.
Figure 6: Features
A key feature of the Quayside presentation, which is not apparent to the prospect until the presentation is ostensibly completed, is the online generation of a personalised colour brochure that reflects all the specific choices made by the prospect during his interaction with the touch screen. This process commences once "Tim's Tour" finishes and the prospect begins to choose particular issue icons for elaboration. The presentation facility is networked to a laser printer in the receptionists foyer, and the brochure is printed out as each section of the presentation is completed by the prospect. So, as the sales representative concludes his discussion with the prospect, the brochure (dated, with prospect's name stylishly visible on the cover) is presented as a reinforcement of what has occurred in the previous hour of so.
IMM as a marketing tool
Building an interactive touch screen facility
The decision to create an interactive touch screen facility to market the Quayside building was influenced by its perceived advantages over traditional marketing methods - namely, that it was:
Given that it was a pioneering project for the property consultants, the leasing agents, the building owners and (to some extent) the multimedia developer, there was an acknowledged high degree of risk involved in committing significant funds, with no guarantee of success. At times, the task assumed frightening proportions, and the learning curve for all parties was highly visible. In terms of 'lessons learnt', the following points are worth reflection:
- easily updateable.
- obviously innovative and 'different'.
- visually impressive.
- client responsive
- Production values must be of the highest quality if the object of the exercise is to market high quality, expensive real estate. This obviously adds to development costs.
- At the same time, technological limitations and constraints have to be faced. For example, one idea was to have a helicopter mounted camera pan across the city skyline at sunset, focusing in on the glass walls of Quayside. While this was technically "do-able", it proved not to be feasible in terms of building it into the desktop presentation. In fact, what actually evolved, (the cartoon animation of Tim the Tenant) proved to be much less of a cliche and instead developed into a simple, very effective, non-threatening strategy that evoked a positive response from prospects.
- Production milestones are difficult to gauge when working in 'uncharted territory'. It is crucial that both the multimedia developer and the client/agent develop and maintain clear lines of communication and consultation at every stage of the project.
- For an 'information kiosk' facility to be successful, there must be two way data flow. The success of the kiosk can be measured in terms of the degree of interactivity.
- An information kiosk must not merely entertain - it must perform a business function and/or capture new data in its operation.
- While the data content of the presentation is obviously what sustains the presentation and enables objectives to be reached, the data can only be accessed if the kiosk can present a very simple, powerful and responsive interface to the user. Designed communication, as ever, is critical to the effectiveness of interactive multimedia facilities.
A successful multimedia project?
Leasing commercial CBD property in 1992 was no easy task. The assessment of the property consultants for Quayside was that the positioning of the building through the use of the interactive kiosk, worked. The program received many accolades by prospective clients and the building was 80% leased by October 1993. In early November 1993, Quayside was purchased by Ralph Sarich.
In terms of the value of the touch screen presentation approach, it can be said that interactive multimedia enabled the property to be presented in the beet possible light and to be distinguished from others in the area. If "image" is that which remains when all else is equal, then the Quayside interactive touch screen facility has justified the investment in its development.
|Author: Brian Haines, Interactive Logic, 2 Clive St, West Perth WA 6005. Tel: 09 324 2188 Fax: 09 324 2189
Please cite as: Haines, B. (1994). Quayside on Mill: Interactive multimedia in the marketplace. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Second International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 176-181. Perth, Western Australia, 23-28 January. Promaco Conventions.
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