Used Judiciously, Drones Can Enrich Property’s Story



Drones aren’t just the latest fad in consumer gadgets — their unique angles and inspiring footage mean that they will be an important tool for property marketers, managers and site selectors for years to come.

Understanding the power of this still-new technology, and then learning to wield it judiciously, is key to tapping into its power to strategically highlight a building’s amenities, design, and location. Property managers must balance the desire to create breath-taking building footage while following legal and safety regulations.


Great drone footage can make a building come alive for tenants and investors in a way other video footage cannot — and it’s useful on a practical level for property managers and site selectors too.

JLL has been using drones for years to shoot eye-popping videos that highlight a property’s amenities and unique value proposition. For example, we used fly-through footage to produce a vivid tour of a 200,000-square foot creative office redevelopment project in Los Angeles, and aerial footage featuring the iconic Atlanta skyline to introduce a sales piece for JLL property management services. We also use drone footage in the site selection process to pre-assess multiple national or global sites, reduce the number of locations that require in-person tours, and ultimately save significant time and resources.

The 360-degree views that are made possible with a drone’s smooth, precise videography take the viewer directly into a landscape, bringing to life all corners of the property — and placing it in clear context within its broader environment. Combined with cinematic editing and augmented reality technologies, this feeling of enhanced first-hand perspective can create a sense of magic, from microsites and iPad tours to dynamic in-person visualizations. It can also give our teams a view of hard-to-see areas of a building, to assess for property management or site selection concerns.


In our innovation process of learning to use drones, we’ve discovered a few keys to making sure that it’s done in a legal and safe way.

Though it may be “unmanned,” drone technology cannot succeed on its own — at least not when it comes to property marketing. To truly inspire prospects and deliver impact, it must become part of a larger, highly-coordinated process that is centered on market expertise, business intelligence, and technology-driven creative.

Moreover, there are critical safety and regulatory guidelines that must be followed. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules for “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” (UAS) require that commercial users must obtain one of a limited pool of FAA permits, have a certified aircraft, pilot license, and operating approval, as well as UAS insurance and liability. The rules may change, but for now, that means following the rules to the letter, either by securing the permit and other requirements directly, or working only with vendors that meet all the same requirements.

With the right team, the right permits — and your legal department’s thumbs up — drones can make for a more unique value proposition for sales and leasing prospects. Just remember that unmanned doesn’t mean infallible, and that the key to success is in the details.

This article previously appeared at the TREC website. Follow The Real Estate Council on Twitter @TRECDallas.

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