Understanding a student’s route to rental; the path they follow from when they first start thinking about what they want from their student accommodation, to when they physically put down their deposit, is integral to ensuring that, as a letting agent, every aspect of your business is in sync with your target demographic. Here at University Cribs, we’ve mapped out this route, so that you don’t have to. Through gaining an insight into the in’s and out’s of when, how and why students choose their accommodation, this can allow you to align your company in line with the millennial mentality, and thus optimize each aspect of your business in order to mark your place as a key player at the forefront of the student property market.
1. When students really start their property search
The first step to addressing this aspect of the route to rental is to break down the different types of students you’ll correspond with, as they all have different viewing habits according to their study status. First-year students who have just moved into student halls will most likely decide on next year’s property early, and before Christmas, as they are always keen to sort out their house with their current friends from halls for the following year. Second and third-year students will be less hasty to rush into choosing their houses, with a generally more laid back approach to their property hunt, and are thus more likely to leave it until January/February time, or after, before they start looking. The third key groups are postgraduate students and students heading through the clearing process. Clearing students and post-grad’s are mostly uncertain on their university placement before receiving their summer exam results, meaning they will have to embark on a last minute accommodation search in July/August. By understanding when different student groups begin their route to rental, it enables letting agents to tailor their marketing campaigns to align with these trends.
2. How a student’s surroundings can influence their property search
Miscellaneous factors may also affect a student’s route to rental, which letting agents or halls providers also need to consider when planning their marketing strategy. Factors, such as friendships, can be influential in stimulating property decisions, as students respond to what other students are doing. Introduce a strategy as simple as encouraging your clients to share an image of their property on social media once they’ve put down their deposit, in exchange for perks or freebies. This is seemingly simple, but it is essentially a source of free advertising as it may trigger other students to start their property search after seeing their friends do so, and it is effective for both parties as students love free stash. In addition, effective on-ground marketing activations in ‘studentified’ areas can also trigger them to start looking for a property. This can be as simple as introducing a billboard in a prominent area within a student city, or as big as a whole street BBQ in order to raise awareness of your brand as well as your properties.
3. How to position yourself as a trigger within the trigger phase
In order to best attract the student demographic, taking charge of the market whilst it’s in the trigger phase is crucial, as this is the period before students decide where to search for their accommodation, making this the opportunity to ensure you are viewed as the best choice for the job, this is achieved through market positioning. Position yourself as a key player in the property game through optimizing each aspect of your business early on, and in time for this trigger period. This can be achieved through means such as ensuring properties are ready to be advertised and their online representation is as slick and attractive as possible. Take charge of the market through strong digital marketing campaigns in order to make yourself a well-established market leader in the eyes of your customers.
4. How to market to students in the active phase of the route to rental
Approaching the active phase of a student’s accommodation search correctly is integral in encouraging them to view your properties as if you aren’t present during this period, your competitors will be. This means going above and beyond through means such as not simply just using online platforms to advertise properties but introducing multimedia marketing campaigns with relevant and enticing content for your target audience. Consider the time of year, and what factors might be affecting students at this time, whether it be freshers week or exam period. By creating internal content such as student hack blogs or savvy advice videos and sharing them on social platforms that students already use, you are connecting them with content they are more likely to want to engage with. This makes house hunting more of an experience for the student, as opposed to being a chore.
5. Mapping your student property timeline
This is all about the types of property you are focussing your marketing efforts around, depending on the different times of the academic year. Top quality properties are most likely to be snapped up in October/November, as these people, demonstrated by their desire to arrange property viewings early, want to ensure their house is in top condition. Whereas post-Christmas, most people are more likely to look for value for money, and more affordable properties as they are aware they have left the quick sellers behind. During the early summer months of May/June, people have truly left their viewings to the last minute, meaning they are more likely to look for room/house shares on your platform. Finally, August and September will be more focused around private halls, as postgraduates and students coming through clearing need last minute, but well-connected places to live in their new university city.