Real-Estate Agents Look To AI For Sales Boost
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Real-Estate Agents Look To AI For Sales Boost

American technology leaders at Realogy, Compass and Zillow hope to augment human savvy with algorithms.

By Sara Castellanos
Thu, Jun 24, 2021 11:40amGrey Clock 3 min

Information-technology executives at some real-estate firms are rolling out artificial-intelligence-based tools designed in part to help agents close deals faster, which could prove useful in today’s hot housing market.

While the selling and buying of homes remains an agent-driven business, IT leaders say such tools can augment their efforts, especially in a market with record prices and tight inventory.

“AI can play a significant role in simplifying and automating processes where traditionally humans have been involved,” said Rizwan Akhtar, chief technology officer of business technology at Realogy Holdings Corp., which owns brokerage brands including Coldwell Banker, Corcoran and Sotheby’s International Realty.

Artificial-intelligence efforts in the real-estate sector are benefiting from advances in cloud computing and data analytics, as well as improvements to algorithms, according to technology leaders at Realogy, Compass Inc. and Zillow Group Inc.

Realogy uses more than 25 AI models, Mr. Akhtar said, including models that can help agents predict their chances of converting a prospective client into a paying client and others that can predict the optimal percentage split between a broker and an agent on a property.

The company is in the early stages of testing an AI app that aims to predict when certain milestones will be reached in the home-buying process, he said.

At real-estate brokerage Compass, an AI-based tool that predicts whether people in an agent’s contact database are likely to sell their homes within a year resulted in more “listing wins” for its agents, said Joseph Sirosh, the company’s chief technology officer. In the second half of 2020, the tool’s recommendations led to a 94% higher “win rate” than the rate for properties that weren’t identified as likely to sell, he said. The technology was released last summer.

Agents reach out directly to people identified by the tool as likely to sell. Traditionally, agents knock on doors, rely on word-of-mouth referrals and make calls to meet potential clients, Mr. Sirosh said. “Agents save time when they are far more targeted,” he said. The model takes into account dozens of variables to make a prediction, including how often homes sell in that region, what the last sale price was and how much the home has appreciated over time, he said.

Realogy offers agents a similar tool.

The coronavirus pandemic resulted in boosting adoption of AI tools among agents, Mr. Sirosh said. During the height of the pandemic, “agents could not work without technology which meant that everything associated with technology, like AI, which provides efficiencies, became incredibly useful,” he said.

Online real-estate company Zillow recently announced that its Zestimate tool, which estimates a home’s market value, is powered by a neural network that learns on its own and takes into account hundreds of millions of data points. The data range from the home’s square footage and unique features to location and how the property differs from surrounding homes, said Stan Humphries, the company’s chief analytics officer.

A neural network is a branch of artificial intelligence that aims to mimic the way the human brain learns.

AI-based models can’t account for human intuition or empathy, though. Buying and selling a home is a “deeply emotional, very risky transaction,” Mr. Humphries said. “Humans are always going to want another person, an expert, to help them with that process.”

AI can add value for agents in incremental ways but real estate will always be a heavily people-focused industry, said Mike DelPrete, scholar in residence on real estate technology at the University of Colorado Boulder. Real-estate companies sometimes tout their prowess in technology and AI to attract agents, Mr. DelPrete said. But the degree to which agents will actually adopt AI and other software tools is uncertain, he added.

“More people are talking about AI in the real-estate industry as a point of differentiation…but the reality on the ground is that it’s more of a marketing tagline,” Mr. DelPrete said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: June 22, 2021



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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.

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