In student housing, a thriving community brings forward opportunities for people to connect, follow their passions and try new experiences, which are crucial parts of their entire learning pathways. One of the best indicators of successful communities are the level of engagement, participation and community connections. Innovations in technology have enabled operators to utilise tools and impact measurements to support operational efforts.
Resident engagement was previously focused on delivering great in-person experiences. The world has changed, and now with almost everything being virtual, we have seen a tremendous amount of creativity and thought go into digital experiences. Everything from online yoga, fitness classes, live DJ’s, Netflix movie nights, online cooking, guest expert speakers, virtual museum tours with group discussions, Jackbox games and more have been adopted by staff across the world, showcasing a huge success.
There are many great platforms to leverage these initiatives. We found that Instagram live, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts, and Slack work well, given the purpose of the event. In the virtual world, a great benefit is you can generally have unlimited attendance numbers. We held our largest in-person event online this year to deliver a special online global community experience. Our team and community came together and had an amazing 3 days of digital learning, connection and fun.
Residents have expressed that they do miss face-to-face, “IRL (In Real Life)” events. There is something special about being in a cool venue, sharing a drink or food, and spontaneously getting to know people beyond the intended subject scheduled. Lifelong connections can be forged and interaction skills are fostered in these residential communities that can be carried into your business or personal life.
We, at StarRez, believe that a hybrid of both virtual and in-person events, that captures the best of both worlds, will be an excellent opportunity to engage more residents in the future.
There is so much more to resident engagement than just offering live events. Are people attending them? Are they having a great experience? Is your operational team able to see at-a-glance which residents are highly engaged and those that appear to be disengaged?
We therefore encourage our community to have a strong feedback loop to rate events and gather feedback on the timing, the experience, and how to elevate these events further. Community experiences should be memorable (for the right reasons) and there’s always a room for improvement. The key is to motivate both students and staff to create a culture of continuous measuring, evaluation and improvement.
Having the optimal solutions that fits your operation to understand engagement trends through the use of data and analytics, will be an essential aspect moving into the future and can reshape these developments.
Are occupancy levels high, retention high, turnover low, shared spaces and amenities well utilised, and common areas damage low? From a technology standpoint, student housing operators have the core needs of enquiry, leasing, electronic contracts and billing to enhance their operation excellence. There are many options for this, but how many solutions can go further and offer you insights on your resident engagement? And are those solutions integrated in the optimal manner? Powerful dashboards, analytics, communication tools, alerts, and events management tools should all form the foundation of your robust technology platform. That’s science.
But science can only prosper with the artistry of applying and managing it. It’s critical that you understand user convenience both for your residence and employees, in every experiential journey. By doing so, you can be proud of your fun sign up process for events, that you can track attendance in a contactless way, and for the foreseeable future, that you can manage reduced capacity to suit the size of the space which might mean holding the same event twice in one day with online booking of a residents preferred timeslot.
Community engagement is a core ingredient in the health and wellness of residents and supports the overall health of your properties. The right technology can be your best friend to measure success; relevant indicators are the utilisation of space and condition. StarRez helps provide a great resident experience at the best of times, but in an emergency, it can prove crucial. Our student housing software has helped users respond to the COVID-19 crisis with maximum efficiency, and maximum consideration for the safety and well-being of their staff and student communities. Now is the time to embrace technology to build stronger connections with residents.
A video further highlighting StarRez's vision for improved resident engagement can be found here.