Today marks the “most important day in the 10-year history of (Zillow),” Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff told a crowd of more than 1,000 agents at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, where the portal is holding its first-ever national agent convention.
Rascoff, speaking in front of a massive screen, said it was a such a big day for the company because it’s the first time it has ever had so many customers in one place.
The “Zillow Premier Agent Forum,” which runs through Friday this week, rivals the size of national agent-focused conventions held by national real estate firms, including Re/Max, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and others, for their agents.
The invite-only event in Las Vegas was designed to help a select few agents who advertise with Zillow, aka “Premier Agents,” network, learn successful strategies from other Zillow power users and get to know the company through its execs. Zillow had 56,818 Premier Agent advertisers at the end of the second quarter. In August, Zillow revealed that it has shifted its focus to bringing on top producers as advertisers.
The event’s agenda features general sessions with talks by Zillow execs, including co-founder and Executive Chairman Rich Barton, CEO Spencer Rascoff, Chief Marketing Officer Amy Bohutinsky, Chief Revenue Officer Greg Schwartz and many others.
The Zillow Premier Agent Forum agenda. You can follow what’s happening during the day on Twitter by monitoring the “#ZillowForum” hashtag.
Breakout sessions, led by Zillow employees with insights from Zillow agent advertiser panelists, are organized into three groups. One series of sessions focuses on teams and how agents can best start them. Another specializes on understanding and connecting with consumers. The third set zeroes in on how agents can maximize their use of Zillow.
Zillow has been holding regional events for agents who advertise with Zillow for more than a year at spots around the U.S., but this is the first national event, Zillow spokeswoman Amanda Woolley told Inman News. Zillow declined to comment further. The event was not open to the press.
“We’ve brought along our top people from Zillow, who are dedicated to helping you get the most out of your Premier Agent experience,” Rascoff wrote in the event’s welcome brochure handed out to agents.
Michael Gardner, an agent working in Malibu, California, was one of the Zillow advertisers in attendance. He came because he felt it was a good opportunity to meet the company he spends so much money with on an intimate level.
Gardner also said he wants to learn tricks to doing better and more business from “these tech people” in addition to networking with and learning from other agent attendees.
Gardner says he recently doubled the amount he spends on his Zillow advertising. The $2,100 he spends per month for impressions on Zillow have earned him a two- to three-times return on his investment so far, he said. Zillow ROI was a hot topic of conversation at an agent dinner he attended on Wednesday evening, he added.
Agents had easy access to Zillow execs at a networking event Wednesday night, Gardner said. Rascoff was approached a number of times by different agents who wanted to know if Zillow intended to become a brokerage, he said. As Zillow execs have consistently done over the years, Rascoff quelled those suspicions with a “no,” Gardner said.
Zillow announces slew of Premier Agent-only features baked into Zillow mobile app
Zillow’s chief revenue officer, Greg Schwartz, announced a slew of new features baked into the Zillow mobile app that will give Zillow agent advertisers access to a customer relationship management platform, with customizable email templates, team access and one-click requests for reviews from clients.
— Speicher Group (@SpeicherGroup) October 16, 2014
Gardner also said Zillow revealed that it had doubled its agent support team in the last three months and is making an effort to resolve listing accuracy issues agents bring to Zillow’s attention within 24 hours and possibly giving agents themselves an avenue to correct issues.
Zillow also said it’s rolling out a new impression-based ad product, according to Gardner. Agents will now be able to buy video ad space on Zillow’s search results pages. As part of the ad product, Zillow will come out to the agent’s office and produce a 60-second video ad, he said.
Leslie Ebersole, an agent with Baird & Warner Real Estate in St. Charles, Illinois, who is also at the Zillow Forum, was impressed with the video-branding product and suggested that Zillow is beginning to offer value that some brokerages are not. “How many brokerages are doing that?” she asked.
“What’s great for me is that almost everyone (at the Zillow Forum) has a similar business — teams and maybe some small brokerages,” Ebersole said. “Most of the industry is still focused on the Realtor as a small farmer — a solo person. The evolution to a team-based culture is happening underneath the brokerages’ noses.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Leslie Ebersole, an agent attending the event.