NAA Student Housing

By on Mar 13, 2017 in News

At the 10th NAA Student Housing Conference & Exposition, held in Chicago on Feb. 14-15, featured more than 100 exhibitors, twNAAstudento keynote speakers and one expert panel.  More than 860 industry attendees — including marketers, property and portfolio managers, leasing specialists, developers and suppliers — converged to take their student housing game to the next level.

While the industry pros in attendance were likely familiar with successful student housing management, but there was still a lot to learn in 16 breakout sessions about the latest trends and technology innovations.

Here are some of the highlights:

In the entertaining general session, keynote speaker Johnny Cupcakes, dubbed “top innovator in retail” by The Boston Globe, talked with great energy about his off-beat approach to branding that creates fanatic and loyal customers. His colorful line of t-shirts and other apparel frequently feature collaborations with characters and brands that his audience feel great nostalgia for, such as Hello Kitty and Minecraft. Limited edition items sold from bakery-themed retail stores, pop-up shops, and social media scavenger hunts generate excitement, FOMO (fear of missing out) and lines out the door.

Leveraging innovation to captivate a tech-savvy consumer group was the focus of “Designing the Student Housing Property of the Future, Today.” Exploring the “Uberfication” of student housing, it is clear that connected buildings with speedy Internet and plenty of bandwidth for gaming and more is expected by Gen Z.

Technology rich communal spaces including charging stations and “smart board” interactive touch screens are highly coveted amenities. Speaker Faith Hawkins, an architect, shared that students are now using an average of 10 wifi-supported devices, connected simultaneously. More desirable amenities for student renters include keyless building entry via smartphones, and optimized package and grocery delivery services for a generation that does most shopping online.

In the “Cornering the Market with Marketing Authorities” panel session, discussion focused around using imagery to market to for Gen Z consumers. It was also discussed that social media polls and Snapchat filters (along with using Snapchat spectacles for property tours) can be very compelling for branding with this demographic. Customization opportunities include geotagging and events like move-ins and graduations.

Attendees were encouraged to follow brands that students love for marketing inspiration. The Learning Zone covered issues ranging from best practices for screening applicants, smart programs for collecting recycling (think of all those boxes from pizza deliveries and online shopping), and how to reach and engage international students using online tools that can be adapted for cultural specificity.

When it comes to best practices for marketing and managing student housing using innovative software, a single platform that connects all internal business processes and resident facing services — including online leasing, rent payments and mobile apps — is a smart choice.

The Yardi Student Housing team demonstrated the many new features of the Yardi Student Housing Suite, which includes Voyager Student Housing for property management and accounting, RentCafe Student Housing for online prospect, resident and guarantor portals; and RentCafe CRM for effective prospect and resident management. Join a Yardi Student Housing Suite webinar to learn more.

If you are thinking ahead to student housing strategy for 2018, check out the schedule and speakers lined up for the next NAA Student Housing Conference & Exposition.