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Optimizing Technology for the Student Housing Market

As I reflect on my observations and experiences at the NAA Student Housing Conference in Las Vegas, it was not surprising to me that technology was abundant. And it was impressive to see how much impact it’s had on the industry. For example, look at the recent results from the National Apartment Association’s student housing survey:

  • Private bedrooms and bathrooms remain the most important apartment amenity among students and parents.   While shopping for an apartment, students and parents search web listing services looking for these amenities. Technology can simplify this process through a robust search engine along with the ability to select a compatible roommate, view the unit, complete an application, and take a deposit for the unit securing the one you want.  
  • The number one way students communicate with their peers is – not surprisingly -with mobile phones, and primarily via text, where most students estimated sending more than 100 texts per day.  Whether the student is in the selection process or already a resident, it is important to use their preferred method of communication.  Through technology you can follow up or market to them via text. Marketing and reminders can include campus activities, specials on units, reminders to pay your rent, etc… 
  • When visiting an apartment community website, both parents and students are most interested in getting information about rental rates.  Properties need websites that allow prospective residents to obtain this information 24/7 with the ability to take action once they find the unit they want. Your website should entice potential residents to want to come live in your community. Once in the community, your website should help them manage their home with online maintenance issue reporting, package delivery, activities calendars and rent reminders. 
  • Besides pricing and locations, most students find professional leasing and management staffs to be most important to them.  Yes, technology can play a huge part in presenting your leasing staff as professional. Technology allows you to automate your sales process and monitor that the proper steps to secure your new resident. Dashboards with drill down capabilities can put the power in your hands to drive positive results.

Technology along with integration can deliver a seamless experience for your prospective resident along with closing the deal for you. Think about the process of looking for a home from the student’s perspective. It is top of mind to the student at 8pm at night when your leasing office is closed. If your website does not have the ability to process a credit application and take a deposit, the resident has not finalized their home. This resident will continue to search the Internet and may find a home seemingly just as appealing that evening where they can finalize the transaction and call it home.

You can change this outcome by integrating your office process into online technology.   Having a website, processing a credit application through a vendor and taking a payment can all be integrated processes seamless to the resident. To the resident, they have had a positive shopping experience by 9pm. They can text their friends and let them know they are ready to head out for some fun!

If you would like more information about the survey click here.

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