Last modified on July 14th, 2017
By Christina Burch
Student housing isn’t what it used to be. The rising cost of education has students and parents demanding more for their room and board spend. These resort-style accommodations have students in certain parts of the country dishing out up to $1,200 per month for them.
The professionally designed and decorated student housing options of today are a far cry from the no-frills dormitories of the past. Upgraded amenities include modern furnishings, private bathrooms, in-unit washer and dryer combinations, and common area spaces that blend learning and social activities.
Private property management firms have now partnered with universities to meet these growing expectations, and the student housing market has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Can your property compete with these sleek and smart student-centric buildings? Maybe it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy. Attract today’s students with these five tips:
- Accentuate the Positive
Research shows that walkability is high on a student’s priority list. Display the quickest route to campus on your website and social channels. While you’re there, make sure high-quality photos capture your best amenities, while floorplans and prices are accessible. Any additional information about local restaurants and social hubs is a great way to foster continued interest in the neighborhood.
- Own Online Conversations
The internet hosts many places where prospects could gather additional information about your property so be sure to actively participate in these conversations. A negative review left unchecked can quickly escalate into a damaged reputation. Respond as quickly as possible to any social media inquiries, resident complaints, and less-than-stellar reviews. Don’t deny the wrongdoing or be defensive. Instead, focus on finding a solution that displays good customer service to the writer and any online bystanders.
- Join the Social Game
Amplify your corporate marketing plan by narrowing in on social media channels. Students spend record-breaking amounts of time on Facebook and Twitter so start developing a content strategy for each. Pull data from regional college groups and initiate organic conversations with students who are already talking about on- and off-campus housing options. Finally, don’t overlook an Instagram plan. This generation of students is heavily swayed by photographic social proof so post photos of your property regularly — they may just lead to inked leases.
- Listen to Locals
Your marketing team should be talking to locals and current students to find out which characteristics of the city or neighborhood are their favorites. It’s important to keep updated of your community’s most beloved perks so make it an ongoing practice. These types of conversations can happen naturally at restaurants, bars, open houses, art walks, and festivals. It’s also wise to build relationships with local vendors and venues so they’re likely to speak highly of your community if any prospective students reach out to them for recommendations.
- Foster Relationships
Property management teams can learn to thrive in crowded markets by investing in long-term relationships with major colleges and universities in the area. This can also include collaborative community workspaces that seamlessly connect companies and students. This new type of environment attracts many students who might also make ideal renters. Students who are highly involved in business and entrepreneurship may also stick around after getting their formal education. If you and your company are seen as an active sponsor and participant within their collaborative workspaces, they’ll be inclined to trust you with their future apartment needs.
The student housing industry is reaching an all-time high — in terms of cost and structural creativity — so property managers should remain a key player. Even if your community isn’t as student-focused as a fresh campus mega complex, it can still attract students with a few key amenities and strategies. These upgrades can also revitalize your marketing practices and improve resident retention. Take note from the latest multi-billion dollar industry and take advantage of the opportunities to reinvent your communities and increase profit.