The game-like environment serves as the growing brokerage’s campus — and eliminates the need for a brick and mortar operation.
Glenn Sanford danced the samba on stage at Inman Connect New York.
Or at least, a virtual avatar representing the founder of eXp Realty danced the samba. The moment took place during a session, titled “Show Us Your Tech: Glenn Sanford, eXp,” in which the executive gave attendees a tour of his company’s virtual world. The world, which resembles something from a video game like the Sims, hosts eXp’s campus, meeting rooms and other facilities — all of which only exist online.
The tour began with Sanford logging into the virtual world from the Connect stage and chatting with a virtual information desk worker — a real person who was working from home while her avatar fielded questions from a digital kiosk.
During the conversation, Sanford explained that “our campus is literally a campus” — meaning that its filled with all the things a normal campus would have. There were buildings, plazas and avatars that represent other eXp agents.
“There are a bunch of people who are jumping to different parts of the world,” Sanford explained of the avatars on the screen.
After chatting with the information desk, Sanford began strolling around a sprawling virtual plaza. He explained that his avatar wears an orange hat, and that he could engage in a variety of activities — including dancing, which he briefly demonstrated.
Sanford’s avatar then sauntered over to a classroom.
The company uses the virtual classrooms to provide educational opportunities for its agents. Those agents log on with their own avatars and take a seat, much as they would in an actual brick-and-mortar classroom.
The firm offers about 80 hours of classes per week, Sanford explained Thursday, and also uses the virtual classrooms for training of state-specific issues.
After visiting the virtual classroom, Sanford popped into a room that is specifically set up for eXp agents working in Florida. The room initially appeared empty, and Sanford said that for many agents who are working in the field there isn’t a pressing need to log into the virtual world often.
Still, he added, “we get about 70 to 80 percent of our agents who will log in once a month.”
While in the Florida room, Sanford chatted with the broker-manager for the region. A man named Andrew, the broker was working remotely — like all of eXp’s members — even as his avatar was seated at a table in a conference room. The chatting took place by voice, rather than text, thanks to the fact that both Sanford and Andrew had microphones hooked up.
During the conversation, Andrew explained that he leaves his virtual door open to let his agents know when he is available to chat. That’s typically between 9 a.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays, and this week so far he estimated that he has had between 30 and 40 virtual conversations.
Sanford next visited a meeting of eXp members based in the U.K.
All of eXp’s agents have avatars and access to the virtual world, which since 2016 has been produced by technology company VirBELA.
In 2018, eXp acquired VirBELA.
During Thursday’s tour, Sanford briefly visited a few additional spots before heading “outside.”
Sanford wrapped up his virtual tour by visiting a soccer field. He said eXp agents can congregate on the field to play games, though the crowd of people there at that particular moment had shown up specifically for Sanford’s presentation.
Sanford briefly chatted with one of his agents who had shown up on the field, before ultimately logging off and wrapping up the tour.