With more developers and more construction in Phnom Penh’s real estate market than ever before, there is inevitably more competition.
While standing out in a crowded market is never an easy task, property developers are placing even more emphasis on making the best first impression with prospective buyers via their showrooms.
Showrooms have long been used to showcase a company’s offering; a try-before-you-buy method which can help a buyer get a feel for a product before parting with their money.
For real estate companies in Phnom Penh, the showroom is the one place the company can share its project vision, and in the process, differentiate themselves from other players.
While they can take anywhere from three to nine months to complete, and can command a big investment outlay, the marketing and sales executives who spoke to Post Property agree that showrooms can give a competitive edge in the sometimes cut-throat real estate sector.
Victor Huot, marketing manager for Urbanland, which is developing condominiums Embassy Residences and Embassy Central in Phnom Penh, says it would be no easy feat to sell the developments without a showroom, especially with all the projects currently on the market.
“It would be hard to differentiate ourselves [without a showroom] because anyone can build a nice-looking model, but to actually make it a reality takes a lot of work,” he said.
“Having something like this is definitely important,” he added, noting that some people have signed a purchase contract within days of visiting the company’s showroom in BKK1.
Urbanland is fresh from opening its second showroom to the public, featuring a one-bedroom unit which is fit to an actual scale of 69 net square metres. The aesthetically pleasing showroom, which includes a 1.5 metre balcony, models a minimalistic yet modern interior.
“Having the two-bedroom [showroom] only spoke to a certain type of customer,” Huot said when explaining the reasoning behind building a new showroom.
“For us, we have spent a lot of time and effort into doing this right because since we are fairly young and new in the industry, we see this as a first impression.”
Urbanland’s showroom, which scooped the “Best Architectural Design” at this year’s Cambodia Property Awards, enables prospective buyers to get a feel for the space of the unit and how it is put together.
“Our objective is to create a showroom experience where visitors can see and feel themselves living in the space where we can attract many of their senses, which is hard to accomplish with just architectural models and renderings,” Huot said.
While some may view a showroom as a static, view-only selling method, Huot said it was much more than that.
“One thing I like people to do is come in and use the space,” he said. “Pretend like it’s home.”
Meanwhile, Meridian International Holding has added an unprecedented wow factor to the Koh Pich-located showroom for its 33-storey Casa Meridian condo, with the company fitting out the entire 15th floor of the still-under-construction building with actual units, enabling possible buyers to “take a picture of the astonishing view” while visiting the showroom.
“In this present world, whereby everything is very visualized for everyone, we believe that the “shopping” experience must be translated into the showrooms,” Salomon Wolf, co-founder and principal of Meridian International, said.
“We are handling the showroom idea, planning and design, as a separate project by itself, in order to create a unique experience for our client.”
Wolf says when it comes to the showroom aspect of the condo development, the company motto is “what you see, is what you get”.
“Our main purpose is to show and relay our message across to our client with the ‘real thing’ and not by ‘impressing’ them with unrealistic designs and concept. Furthermore, we use all the same materials, build-ins and electronic equipment as our standard handover package to them,” he said.
Wolf admits the extravagance and the kind of investment that comes along with its showroom is something “not every developer will like to or can do.”
“But for us, we feel it is definitely a game changer to have this opportunity, to take a client to the actual building and showing him/her the real unit,” he said.
The company is currently nearing completion of planning for its new Meridian Square showroom, their latest project in the upcoming Phnom Penh City Centre, situated at the former Boeung Kak Lake.
“Over there we will have a new kind of presentation that has never been seen before in Cambodia,” Wolf said.
Oxley International and Worldbridge Land only launched its new showroom for the $580 million project, The Peak, in May, which attracted close to 300 guests. The showroom, in the Tonle Bassac commune, is the second showroom under the Oxley Worldbridge umbrella.
Harry Martin, head of sales at Oxley Worldbridge, told Post Property the joint venture’s showroom is an essential component in helping the investor or owner-occupier understand what the project they are buying into entails.
“Property development or sales in property is not like McDonalds. You’re not selling a happy meal to any kid,” Martin said.
“We have buyers from all over the world, so when buyers look at the sight they will have a showroom that lets them have a feel for the type of quality we will be offering to the buyers when they make an investment.”
Oxley Worldbridge doesn’t believe in selling off-plan, and with the developer being a relative newcomer in the capital’s real estate market, Martin said the showroom helped to give buyers and potential buyers confidence in the company’s reputation and ability.
“I feel a showroom is a key point to enhance the confidence level of the buyer,” he said, adding that having a showroom is critical in being as transparent as possible to the public in informing them that the developer is here to stay – not just a “fly-by-night developer”.
The showroom, which will also be used to exhibit the Group’s upcoming projects, showcases one-, two- and three-bedroom units that will be available within the 55-storey high project. Unsurprisingly, the showroom doesn’t come cheap.
“What is spending $1-$2 million for a showroom to show the clients what we are going to do for you and this is what you’re going to get?” Martin said.
Ultimately, Martin said showrooms can separate legitimate property developers from the unscrupulous ones.
“As long as we have projects that are ongoing we will definitely have a showroom.”
Martin concluded: “Many developers can promise a lot of things during the sales process, but at the end of the day it is only the genuine developers that will deliver what they have promised.”