How to Host a Virtual Broker Caravan
Once a month, pre-stay-at-home orders, “there was a really good broker caravan in the Tampa Bay area. We would go property to property. It’s brokers only, but we would get between 30 to 50 agents showing up, too,” says Taylor Cresswell, broker-owner of Sellstate Legacy Realty in Tampa.
With social distancing, agents in Cresswell’s office were trying to figure out how they could get feedback on new listings and keep the broker caravan momentum going.
He came up with a plan to do virtual broker caravan tours using Facebook, YouTube and Instagram TV (IGTV). “We treat them as live videos, but they aren’t live streamed,” he says. “Instead, we film, then edit, so it doesn’t last for hours.” The first Virtual Caravan was in April and he plans to do one a month, with a variety of homes listed by multiple brokerage brands.
“Our first caravan [called Tampa Bay Virtual Real Estate Caravan] had over 10,000 views and eight properties from CENTURY 21, Keller Williams, Signature Realty Associates and Sellstate,” he says.
He’s found that not only does he reach agents and brokers, but consumers watch the videos as well. In addition, he has sponsors to help local businesses get exposure. “They contribute to the ad budget [boosting posts on Facebook, etc.] in order to increase engagement. The sponsor is tagged in our videos and mentioned in the introduction,” he says.
Here’s how it works:
Cresswell gives all the agents showing property a Zoom video conference invitation. He serves as the host and will introduce the virtual caravan as well as each agent showing property. Everyone is on the Zoom call, but they are on mute and hidden until it is their turn to show a property. When it is an agent’s time, they film a virtual walk-through of the property highlighting what’s special about the home.
The video is then edited by Cresswell’s team. Property addresses, agent’s name, brokerage and contact information are added, and the video is uploaded to YouTube, IGTV and Facebook. Agents can share videos on their own pages, as well.
Tips for success:
Don’t brand it to your brokerage. Cresswell set up a separate Facebook page and encourages agents from all Tampa Bay companies to participate. In fact, each property is shown by the listing agent, whose name, brokerage and contact information is included on screen before the tour. He also set up Instagram and YouTube accounts that are not branded to him or his brokerage.
2. Choose wisely.
Cresswell ultimately chooses which properties to feature. “The first one had eight listings; eight different agents. We only allow one listing per agent. And, they are required to share it on Facebook. I try to be selective, choosing new listings, homes that are priced accurately in good neighborhoods, because we want to make the video interesting,” he says.
All leads should go to the listing agent. “We put the listing agent’s information on the screen and the listing agent performs the tour, all leads go to the listing agent,” he says.
Cresswell says he puts in about 100 hours a month reaching out to agents, posting to Facebook groups, marketing the virtual caravan and getting sponsors. He says it is well worth it since he expects the idea to stick around even after the market gets back to normal. Says Cresswell, “If you can get eyes on a property, somebody’s going to make an offer. We had people commenting on posts asking questions about houses before the caravan even started!”
Tracey C. Velt is a contributing editor for Florida Realtor magazine.