Expectations for student accommodation have never been higher than they are today. That old stereotypical image of smelly, shabby bedsits is just that: an old stereotype. It no longer applies to the great majority.
The rise of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) is largely responsible for this raising of living standards, as is the influx of international students who have different ideas about what the student lifestyle is and how it should be lived.
The modern student wants to live in a space that they can be proud of – one that is equally equipped for work, rest, and play. Offering them a bed, a desk, and a kitchen-like space is not enough. Neither, for that matter, is having super-fast Wi-Fi: that is now just as essential as beds, desks, and kitchen areas are. You need to offer much more.
The price of rent within PBSA can range from the affordable to the astronomical, depending on the facilities and the location. But for many students, especially the wealthier ones (many of whom are international), luxury is worth extra expense. For these students, the question is this: Why pay £140 per week for the bog-basic when £280 per week would give me things like an on-site gym, a cinema room, a state-of-the-art games room, shared study spaces, on-site social events, and a genuine community?
Quality, current interiors
With higher prices comes higher demand for stylish, functional interior design. All providers of rental accommodation – student and otherwise – ought to reinvest regularly in this area. In such a competitive market, outdated aesthetics and last decade’s furniture styles will put you behind your competitors.
If regular reinvestment is not a viable option for you financially, choose more carefully when you do invest. Opt for the timeless designs rather than the latest fashions, because the latter will start to look dated within two or three years.
These days, there’s more to quality accommodation than nice bedrooms, nice kitchen facilities, and nice bathrooms. Each student still values having their own space, but they also want other spaces within their residence – spaces that they can use to study, socialise, and relax as they see fit. For example:
- A communal study area with large tables for co-working, and small desks for solo work
- Common areas with soft sofas, big armchairs, and TVs (and maybe even games consoles)
- A games room with pool tables, air hockey, table football, pinball, and so on
- A cinema room with comfy seating, blackout curtains (or no windows at all!), a projector, and a huge screen
Having communal spaces means little if the building’s management team does not promote a sense of community among the residents. Being able to socialise within their accommodation is a big plus for modern students, especially those who have come to the UK from other countries and other cultures. Going out and getting drunk down at the students’ union or the nearest cheap bar is another rather dated stereotype – one that represents only a small portion of the UK’s contemporary student population.
Film screenings, quizzes, pizza-assisted study nights, and other such events will get your residents mingling with each other and making friends across different cultures.
Safety and security
All students – domestic and international – want to feel safe and secure in their accommodation. This is a huge concern for their parents, too.
Many student residences now have on-site teams that run 24/7, handling everything from housekeeping and events to maintenance and security. On top of this, the buildings themselves are usually gated, with entrances and exits being manned and monitored at all times.
Without friendly and engaged staff, however, these security measures can feel somewhat prison-like; it is therefore crucial that on-site teams get acquainted with their residents and build relationships with them. It’s all part of the experience.
Central location – or superb transport links
Not so long ago, it was the norm for student accommodation to be slightly (or significantly) out of the way, outside of the city centre – sometimes within or on the cusp of deprived areas. This is still the case for many PBSA residences, chiefly those at the cheaper end of the spectrum, and there is still a market for that. But among the wealthier student demographics, there is now demand for student accommodation that is central – really central. This can be just as much of a maker or a breaker as your on-site facilities and your interior design are, especially given that luxurious student accommodation is now the same price as regular city-centre rental accommodation (if not even more expensive).
In the case of PBSA that is high-end but not central, there needs to be strong transport links to make up for it (not to mention more effort when it comes to facilities and perks).
Stay Ahead with Your Digital Marketing Efforts
When students and their parents shop around for their accommodation, they do most of their research online. Your website therefore needs to convey your brand’s personality with absolute clarity, as well as giving your users a clear impression of the experience they can expect when they live in your accommodation. Doing this well requires a lot of work and effort.
For starters, you need an attractive website that is easily navigable and functional on all types of devices. Then you need that website to be full of well-written content that is informative, engaging, and personable – both for the students and for their parents. On top of that, you need to establish and maintain a strong social media presence (both organic and paid), you need to place content on other authoritative websites that are relevant to your student audience, and you generally need to produce content that becomes the talk of the sector. We at theEword can help you with all of this, because customer acquisition through strategic content marketing is what we do. In fact, why not download our free guide to online property marketing?