Student occupancy rates are one of the top KPIs for student housing property managers. Whether you are able to fill up a property or not depends on many factors, including the location, travel facilities, rental rates and the standard of housing. Another key factor that determines the occupancy rates is the efficiency of your sales and marketing functions.
What can property managers do to make sure that all the properties are occupied? How do you make sure that the occupancy rates for the portfolio that you are managing exceed industry standards? Well, you need to provide good facilities and great housing experience to the students, but in addition to that you also need to be innovative and aggressive with your marketing. Here’s what you can do:
1. Leverage social media: Students spend a lot of time on social media and they often use it to find information about accommodation. Build a strong presence on Facebook and other social media; share information and entertaining stuff that is most likely to appeal to your target audience. Most student accommodation providers view Facebook as the most effective medium for engagement.
2. College newsletters and websites: Make sure that all the students in target college campuses are aware of your accommodation by being visible on the college website, newsletters, college community notice boards, etc. You can also invest in banners and hoardings in prime spots that the students are most likely to gather around.
3. Run contests: Contests with the right kind of topic and interesting prizes can grab the attention of students. Make it as easy as possible for students to participate and ensure that a sizeable portion of the participants get some sort of gift. Such contests can be a great source for getting data on students in the area. The information you gather can be woven into your future marketing efforts. (With GDPR around the corner, don’t forget to obtain their consent to hold their data!)
4. Video marketing: The modern breed of student prefer images and videos to words when it comes to taking in information. Ensure that they can easily take a virtual tour of your property. Also, demonstrate how vibrant and fun the student community at your accommodation is by sharing videos of events and activities.
5. High-speed Internet: Modern students live online and they consume a lot of data, at high speeds. Include low-cost high-speed data or fiber networks in your accommodation to satisfy such students.
6. Woo the parents: Often, it is the parents who pay for the accommodation and they have a big say in the final decision. Impress the parents by offering them a free accommodation in your hospitality suite, or promote a ‘weekend with parents’ offer – you can pay for the parents and students to go to a movie and dinner, after the student has stayed in the accommodation for three months or any other predetermined period.
7. Make your accommodation a truly fun place to be: In addition to offering sports facilities and creating a community where students can hang out and have fun, you could organize movie nights if there is a suitable location on site along with free popcorn, food and drinks. Or you could organize barbecues or sponsor other events that are most likely to resonate with the local student community.
8. Get a likeable mascot: No matter how cool your student housing is, very few buildings are instantly recognizable. In order to improve your brand recognition, create a mascot and use it across marketing channels.
9. Guerilla marketing: Students are likely to appreciate creative marketing efforts – when done right. Organise a pool party for the students, give out free food, offer free t-shirts, run contests, organize a flash mob – the possibilities are limitless! Just ensure that the activity is in good taste and doesn’t involve anything that would offend or anger members of the audience.
10. Cast a wide net: Some students look for cheap housing, while others are ready to pay a princely sum for luxurious student accommodation. And there’s many that fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Property managers can attract a wider range of students by offering several properties at various price ranges in the same location.
The student accommodation market continues to grow and the demand for accommodation far outstrips the supply. Property managers must aim at high student occupancy rates – limited investment in the right areas can often boost student occupancy rates significantly. Best of luck!