The Future of Virtual Meeting Software
Mark Duclos, SIOR, the president of Sentry Commercial in Hartford, Conn., served an unusual term as SIOR Global’s president: It spanned 2020 and 2021, years that saw multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. But even though Duclos was forced to replace travel and in-person meetings with Zoom and other virtual platforms, he has no regrets about the timing. On the contrary, he believes he met more people in his two years as president than any other president in the history of SIOR. He could join virtual cocktail parties with SIORs in Europe or “drop into” a chapter event in Los Angeles, no flights required. “How cool is that?” he asks.
Duclos had rarely used virtual meeting software before the onset of the pandemic, and neither had several of his fellow SIORs. Vanessa Herzog, SIOR, partner at Lee & Associates in Seattle, recalls that when her office was shut down, her staff suggested that she learn how to use Microsoft Teams for virtual meetings. At the time, she didn’t think she needed yet another technology tool. Today she looks back and admits, “I really did need that piece of technology.”
At first, many brokers used virtual meeting software as a temporary fix during lockdowns and restrictions. For example, Mark Van Ark, SIOR, director of KW Commercial in Centennial, Colo., notes that the software enabled him to continue his brokerage and consulting practice “without missing a beat.”
But the temporary fix gained admirers, who expect it to become a permanent fixture of business. “When it comes to communicating with clients and being able to go over documents or proposals with them, Zoom is a wonderful way to do it,” says David Liebman, SIOR, managing broker at Merit Partners, LLC, in Northbrook, Ill. He believes that gains in efficiency balance out or even outweigh the losses in social interaction. Laurie Tylenda, SIOR, associate broker at CBRE-Albany, N.Y., reports that video calls have enabled her “to put a name to a face for clients who are across the country.”
Herzog appreciates the time-savings that virtual meeting software offers. Members of her local SIOR chapter used to devote entire days to traveling along the heavily trafficked I-5 corridor to a luncheon meeting, attending the meeting, and traveling back. Attendance spiked dramatically when the meetings became virtual, which Herzog describes as “a great resolution” to the chapter’s geographic challenges—a resolution that will likely continue, at least in some capacity, post-pandemic.
Herzog also praises the screen-share option, which enables her to pull up assessors’ maps, property surveys, and building drawings. “We can actually have a productive meeting with me sharing the screen and going through whatever materials I might cover with them in person,” she says. For Landon Williams, SIOR, senior vice president – capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Advisors in Memphis, Tenn., screen-sharing capabilities make virtual meetings preferable to phone calls, although his first choice is in-person meetings. “There’s nothing better than connecting face-to-face in the same room,” he states.
Read the full article in the Spring 2022 issue of SIOR Report out now!