Student Housing 2015

The LD Events Student Housing Conference 2015 was held in London on 13th May. ASK4 Sales Manager Chris Ellis shares some highlights.

Politics

Coming the week after the UK general election results, the conference was awash with confidence. It seemed like the majority of people in the room saw the outcome as a positive for the UK, (hopefully) giving us a period of stability in the economy, property market and higher education. Alongside this there were a few notable areas of doubt concerning the potential impact of the tightening of student visa rules, the "in-out" EU referendum and the lifting of the student numbers cap for universities.

Customer Satisfaction

Bret Lashley, of Greystar Europe, gave an interesting account of their rapid entry into the UK student accommodation market. Key to Greystar's growth strategy is ensuring the site managers are working with a service led ethos - going above and beyond to deliver customer satisfaction. Bret cited the importance of the first two weeks for a new resident. It is this time that shapes their feeling about the building and operator, with first class WiFi being a priority for new students.

At ASK4 we know how important this is. New students in a new environment will easily feel cut off without the ability to connect with friends and family online, as well as accessing entertainment and student resources. This has certainly been our experience over the last 15 years visiting ASK4 sites on move in day.

The majority of new students:

  • 1. collect their keys,
  • 2. make sure the internet is working and
  • 3. get mum and dad to leave as quickly as possible!

The WiFi Generation

Taking a more design based view, Nick Riley of WCEC Architects drew a distinction between first and second generation student accommodation. First generation stock is now around 10 years old and was much more utilitarian in approach - lots of birch veneer, deep desks to accommodate CRT monitors and tower computers, and non flat screen TVs. The internet in first generation stock was also predominantly delivered via ethernet ports behind the desk and was not generally inclusive - being seen as something of a luxury at the time.

Jump to second generation student accommodation and we are in a much more luxurious world with large windows, double beds and larger shower pods. Free internet including full WiFi coverage is everywhere and the ethernet port has a new location in the corner of the room away from the desk to connect to consoles or smart TVs.

A key point to note here is that the majority of the first generation accommodation has been updated to include full WiFi coverage, while the old beds, desks and fixtures remain. That's how important WiFi is to the student experience.

 

Jess Culbert