On May 17th and 18th, the Toronto Congress Centre was a hive of activity about all things real estate for the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB)’s annual Realtor ®Quest conference.
This REALTOR ®-centric, two-day event followed the tried, tested and true format by having a trade show, seminars, as well as an individual and moderated panel-led speaker series. However, elements of innovation were weaved throughout making it an event for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) ’s real estate industry's finest with more upload-friendly opportunities than ever before.
Easy and Breezy.
One thing that struck me immediately is how digital and thus, easy everything was. Being a REALTOR ® myself I can say, and do so with great affection, that we are a bunch constantly triaging our time, so not know for our patience. It was a welcomed change to not have to wait in a long line for check-in, and instead, breeze up to a scanner and have it read my phone, print my badge lickety-split and I was on my way.
A Plethora of Uploadable Moments
There was a plethora of uploadable moments throughout the trade show. When you get a whole bunch of industry folks together at an event, the vibe can be one that is stuffy. REALTOR ® Quest was anything but stuffy; a beautiful milieu of efficiency, information, and whimsy. Yes, you read that right—I called the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board whimsical.
When you gather salespeople in one space, the whole thing can start to feel like one note, like one big sales pitch. In actuality, TREBB leaned into the tendency for a convention geared to salespeople to be salesy by having pitch battles, thus demonstrating their sense of humour. See, I told you, TRREB was whimsical.
If you’re picturing a slew of REALTORS ® in black hoodies waiting to drop beats about bungalows and triplexes to the tune of the 8 Mile soundtrack, it wasn’t that, but it wasn’t the same played-out record with a thousand scratches on it either, to continue the metaphor. Picture a more Dragon’s Den motif, where real-estate-adjacent companies pitch their products to a panel of furrow-browed judges. For the audience, it was a detour from the usual bombardment of information and took a much-needed, fresh approach allowing us to both elect to engage and learn about technological innovations across the marketplace.
Joyful REALTORS ® and Rainbows
Some uploadable moments came in the form of giant rainbow lettering that simultaneously spelled out TRREB and begged for a selfie at the same time.
Other uploadable moments took the form of visually astounding backdrops that encouraged participants to get in close, snap a photo and send it out via the socia-verse. One could not help but bear witness to the joyfulness in a grown, tenured gentleman REALTOR ® jumping on cue in a decked out-bedroom booth for his Instagram-able moment.
Although a wonderfully whimsical by-product, the genius was in TRREB’s messaging which was pushed out less by them and more by attendees. The medium was brilliant but so was the messaging-- that TRREB was present as a fixed point- a north star, guiding real estate for everyone.
This clever message of reliability and inclusivity was woven throughout the entire conference. Whether it was speaking to the importance of marketing to and servicing the burgeoning and often-overlooked demographic of senior citizens to many a panel discussion or speaker on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Cultivating a Diverse or Inclusive Workplace or Empowering Women in Real Estate, it created a large and much-needed footprint.
As expected and necessary, REALTOR® Quest explored technological innovation. Present were many seminars on all things tech, including podcasting, connectivity solutions, artificial intelligence (AI) Bots and ChatGPT. ChatGPT is a language processing tool driven by AI technology that allows for human-like conversation. It can answer questions and assist you with tasks, such as composing essays, emails, letters or even coding
Health and Wealth, not Mutually Exclusive.
The second major theme that was present at REALTOR® Quest was perhaps even harder to miss than the preceding two. It was one of health and wellness. This was a forefront topic that is messaging that real estate professionals absolutely need to hear.
To assist with conceptualizing the notion of self-care as productive rather than unproductive time, TRREB had an entire section named, bannered and right by the door entitled Health Quest. Perhaps to give our fast-paced industry players the opportunity to pause and reflect on the important messaging was a station with massage chairs and an army of professionals looking to improve one’s wellness in a restorative, hands-on way.
The message of inclusivity was taken one step further in Day 2’s keynote speaker, Trevor Noah’s conversation with ET Canada’s Cheryl Hickey. In this sit down between the two Mr. Noah discussed his viewpoint on authenticity. If you’re thinking, ‘Isn’t authenticity a good thing?’ Here’s what Noah had to say, “Authenticity always needs to be juxtaposed with context otherwise you’re just being a jerk. We are all existing in relation to others. We need to acknowledge that we are in a space where we need to be cohesive with someone.” To further demonstrate his point, Trevor Noah noted that we would all drive a whole lot differently if there were no other drivers on the road.
It makes sense that Ontario's biggest board would take the initial leap in
messaging around wellness, but more importantly inclusivity.
My hope for the future is two-fold. Firstly, TRREB continues to forge this path, digging deeper to solidify these into roads, not just trails.
My second wish is that other real estate boards and province-wide industry leaders accept the gauntlet thrown down by TRREB and invest the resources. In doing so, these measures will demonstrate that inclusivity is a fundamental part of real estate, not a flight of fancy.
Those that hold on to the notion that real estate ownership and investment are only assets attainable for a specific client profile will undoubtedly be left behind as our industry's hearts, minds and profit margins shift forward.