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How To Keep Students Engaged In Student Accommodation
Letting Agent Articles

How To Keep Students Engaged In Student Accommodation

Written by Sam | August 3, 2020

When you have students in your accommodation it is much easier to contact and communicate with them than it is to continue to find new students every year.

As a metaphor, imagine you a ferry wheel, it is easier to keep people on the wheel than it is to continually find new customers. This is the same for student accommodation, you don’t want to have to fill your block, houses, flat and anything else completely each year. You want re-bookers because they are easier to sell to and cost less overall than a new student typically!

What is Engagement?

Students who live with you are naturally more engaged with you than others because it is in their interest to be! However, engagement for me is where you get answers, can communicated directly and speak to people in your community.

How To Reach Engagement

This for me is where it can get interesting, for instance, if you set your stall early and offer an incentive for an answer on a survey etc, then the motive isn’t to give an honest answer, it is to win the prize.

You want to try and reach a point of engagement where there are no incentives. This means the engagement you get is fully organic, completely honest and constructive (most of the time).

To get to a good level it takes a lot of time and effort in all honesty, you have to put yourself out there with lots of ideas where some will work and some won’t work and then make it really easy to get the answers or replies that you want! Here are some ideas:

  • Surveys
  • Quizzes
  • Christmas presents
  • Easter eggs
  • Birthday cards – You can automate this
  • WhatsApp groups and broadcasts
  • Private Facebook group
  • Tenant only email
  • Events in your spaces
  • Parties

These types of events are designed to get people to interact with you so when you need something from them, mainly feedback, suggestions and reviews, they are far more happier leaving it.

How To Improve Engagement

If your engagement is currently low, then that is not a problem, no one started off with amazing engagement and following straight away!

Don’t go all out with an event each week, you will need time to drum up interest, go for an event each quarter. Scale it back, give people less commitment to start, and start to ramp it up after you have people turning up.

Firstly, create your calendar of events, keep the commitment levels low make it accessible.

Secondly, get your communication channels open and make sure that they know they can contact you on these channels if they need you. These channels should be a 2 way channel and then this encourages the students to engage with you.

In these channels you can also put up useful content for them, wish them happy birthday, Christmas and pass them on to your blogs and articles when it comes to important events like moving out after 3 amazing years!

After that create events on Facebook and invite people to it, you can use the channels above to push the promotion of this but before you create an even it is good to already have the communication channels set up! You can use something like Canva in order to create your visuals and graphics.

When promoting the event, you need to make sure that you focus on what the students will get out of it rather than what you may get out of it. For example, a party.

  • Make sure that you focus on the times of the event
  • What you are offering (usually free or cheap beer)
  • How easy it is to get involved
  • Where and what they can do after
  • What they will get out of it – A good time

Engagement Never Stops

Once you have got engagement you need to continue on that trajectory, if you stop then it will stop.

However, there is a blurry line between engagement and spam. You don’t want to do so many things that students feel bombarded with news, information, events etc.

You just want a nice steady flow of items that allow you to create an amazing service and get bookings because they talk about you and they want to stay with you!

It is good practice to have a plan of what you are going to do when. For example, in our WhatsApp broadcasts, we average one a month where we just check in and see how the students are and then update them with any information on what has happened, when it was at the height of the pandemic, we increased it to once every two weeks!

It is also good to know when to push for sales and when to push the services and brand, you can start talking about booking after November and December in most scenarios. Most students will want to do this so they don’t have to move again. Make this part too intense and it will put students off!

Plan your months on a calendar and know what you want to achieve by each one, is it a brand one that is good for students or is it sales that helps you save time, money and effort by students rebooking.

The branding is likely to get you amazing reviews when you mix it with some great student accommodation and after their time with you they will be happy to help you because you have done so much for them!