The collapse of Thomas Cook, widely seen as failing modernise with the expectations of modern shoppers, is a clear lesson for estate agents according to a senior industry figure.
Property management company chief David Alexander says: “Traditional High Street businesses such as estate and travel agents must provide an excellent online offering coupled with outstanding personal service. Clients still want the meet and greet personal experience in lettings and estate agencies but backed up by an online platform which answers all their questions and fulfils all their needs.”
And he adds: “Given that the property investment market has changed dramatically over the last few years estate and letting agents must think smarter and act more efficiently to provide clients with a cost effective, pro-active, legal and financial offering to ensure the customer can access all services in one place.”
Alexander, who runs property management platform Apropos, says the Thomas Cook collapse is a tale for our times; bricks and mortar will remain on the High Street, he insists, but only if those same companies have extensive and all-embracing online offerings.
In the first six months of this year there have been 1,743 high street insolvencies among estate agents, retailers, and restaurants.
The figures this year are already on course to be higher than last year when 3,136 high street businesses went bust and are likely to be the highest on record.
“The idea of going into town and booking a holiday or buying or renting a house from someone in a shop has long been superseded by the internet” he believes.
He acknowledges that business rates and high rents have played their part in drumming shops out of traditional centres, but the bigger issue is their own failure to update with the times.
“The shift online in traditional High Street markets has been relentless and generationally there has been a major shift by people under 40 who run their lives through their phones, tablets and computers. This group would never now consider going into an estate agent or a travel agent for information and they are the future, so the market must shift to cater for this group” says Alexander.