National Property Trade virtual roundtable: later living sales & marketing in a Covid-19 world

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National Property Trade recently hosted its second stellar panel of later living thought leaders for a virtual roundtable to discuss how the sales & marketing function of the sector has fared during the Covid-19 pandemic and what the future might look like.

National Property Trade CEO Cormac Henderson chaired the discussion and was joined by Angela McKimmie, Sales & Marketing Director at Rangeford Villages; Gary Langford, Regional Sales Manager at Audley Group; James Cobb, Group Sales & Marketing Director at Inspired Villages and Liza Webb, Group Sales Development Manager at Churchill Retirement Living.

Some of the key points from this fascinating discussion included:

  • Renewed optimism coming back to the market following the easing of lockdown, however balancing safety and opportunities to see product will be vital
  • A focus on customer storytelling for marketing – utilising the personal positive experiences of residents to communicate the benefits of buying into a later living community
  • Marketing that provides reassurance – infection rates at retirement communities are as low as 0.5% compared to the national average of 7%
  • The challenges of converting a large online and social following into the sales funnel
  • Print media still has its place but it will be interesting to see how the response rate fares going forwards
  • The rise of virtual tours – a good first step but no substitute as ‘seeing is believing’ (1 in 5 customers who visit an Inspired Villages development will purchase)
  • Sales advisors taking on a deeper, support-led role during times of loneliness
  • The use of part-exchange and home buying services as ‘an essential part of any sales toolkit’ with some operators seeing up to 40% of purchasers using such initiatives
  • The need to unlock downsizer homes at the top end of the market (possibly through a one-time stamp duty exemption for last time buyers) to kick-start the rest of the market – as building new units is only one half of the solution
  • Ways to better communicate the benefits of independent living to wider society – these communities can save the NHS £3,500 per head
  • The need for a specific Retirement Communities act to help support the sector at a policy level

It is clear that later living communities provide a vast wealth of far-reaching benefits, not just to those who occupy them but also for the wider housing market and economy, local communities and the NHS. Together we must continue to bang the drum at consumer, corporate and political level to ensure that the sector continues to grow, providing much-needed housing for our elderly.  We look forward to facilitating more interesting discussions on the sector over the coming months.