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How PBSA operators can help residents engage with their local community

Helping students connect to their local community and engage with their surroundings should be a major focus for PBSA operators, as students increasingly want more than just a place to stay from their accommodation.

As part of ASK4’s recent research report, The Students of 2022, prospective students across Europe were surveyed about their attitudes towards various aspects of student living including independence, discovery, and immersion. What was clear from the research is that students overwhelmingly have a desire to explore their local environments and immerse themselves in their surroundings. For example, 95% of those surveyed said that they are excited to explore a new city when they move away to study and 92% said they are excited to go out to bars and social events. Students do not view these factors as simply added bonuses of studying at university either, as 75% said that exploring a new town and city is an important part of the university experience. For PBSA operators, this presents an excellent opportunity to cater for this key part of the university journey and facilitate the connections to the city or town their residents are living in.

ASK4 and Spike’s unique offering helps to meet many of the needs and expectations that students have around student living and socialising, streamlining the process for PBSA operators and providing useful data and analytics to improve the service to their residents.

When students first move into their new accommodation, it is likely that they will be unfamiliar with the surrounding area and may not have made friends or met many people. Through Spike Global’s resident engagement portal, Spike Student, residents are able to connect with each other instantly, and the ‘what’s around me’ feature can highlight local shops and services, as well as providing access to a whole host of other details to help reduce anxiety around moving to a new location on their own at what can be a very turbulent time in their lives. As the portal caters exclusively for building residents, it offers a safer alternative to groups on Facebook or other prominent social media, which are more easily infiltrated by spammers and strangers, helping students to make truly local new friends. Both ASK4 and Spike aim to help clients ensure their residents feel engaged from the offset and feel a real sense of community and belonging. 

Many accommodation providers who provide the Spike Student portal to their residents also team up with local businesses to offer special discounts to their residents on anything from hairdressers, and coffee shops, to local bars and restaurants, all of which can be promoted to residents and driven through the Spike Student smartphone app. According to the 2020 Knight Frank / UCAS Student Accommodation Survey, 29% of students said they would pay a rental premium for having access to discounts for shops/amenities in the local area, therefore providing additional value for residents.

This not only helps to introduce residents to their surroundings in a convenient way but also connects local businesses to the accommodation itself to further integrate the building as part of the community. 

Spike Student can also be used to link up with external partners to provide additional services, from bedding packs and weekly cleans to pizza delivery and beauty services, which could result in additional revenue streams in the form of commission. Providing an easy way for students to interact and helping them to engage with their surroundings is now a necessity. Almost half of the university student population (46%) admit to experiencing loneliness during their time at university, and the desire from the student cohort to make new friends and collaborate cannot be overlooked. With an average engagement rate of 87% across its portals, Spike Student is proven to help residents truly live their best student lives and take from the university experience everything they want to.

DO YOU REALLY NEED A RESIDENTS’ APP?

Join our webinar on the 14th June with ASK4 to learn the ways in which residents’ apps can not only help foster communities in accommodation but also help PBSA owners and operators achieve all important ESG targets. Register below.

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Case Study

Moda Living launches industry-first service to help residents go green

Moda Living has launched a new data-driven proptech platform to revolutionise the way its residents interact with their energy consumption and sustainable behaviours, helping its communities save money and boosting the sustainability of Moda’s UK-wide portfolio of neighbourhoods in first for the UK build-to-rent sector.

The rental living developer and operator has worked with MyModa app developer Spike Global and ESG technology partner Utopi to give residents access to live energy usage data around the clock.

All Moda Living neighbourhoods are equipped with Utopi smart sensors throughout their homes and amenity spaces, which monitor environmental factors such as air quality, temperature and energy usage. In the last six months alone, these sensors have captured more than 105 million data points at Moda Living sites. With a pipeline of more than 18,400 new rental homes, the service will eventually be capturing 18.7 million data points every day across its portfolio.

For the first time, the new service will put this data in the hands of Moda residents to give them live readings from the sensors throughout their building, providing them with a range of new benefits.

Residents are increasingly conscious of their impact on the planet, and the new partnership will allow them to monitor their carbon emissions, ranking them within their neighbourhood, helping change behaviours, supporting residents to play their part in the journey to Net Zero Carbon. This pioneering approach will connect Moda Living residents to their building, including more data insights into how their homes and amenity spaces are performing. Operating teams at Moda Living sites will use the new tech to incentivise energy-efficient behaviour with events and competitions, boosting overall sustainability as well as engaging with residents on an issue that matters to them.

The platform will also provide residents with personalised hints and tips they can use to make small changes that will have a big impact on their utility spend. In the midst of the UK’s cost of living crisis, the new technology will help protect residents from rising energy costs and feel in control of their spending, contributing to overall wellbeing.

Moda will also be able to use the data from the Spike/Utopi partnership to set its own targets for reduction in consumption and spot anomalies. Residents with poor energy scores, for example, will be identified and offered advice and support to reduce their costs.

The service will be rolled out across Moda’s portfolio of next generation rental living platforms, from its city centre build-to-rent towers to its new suburban single family homes platform, Casa by Moda. Across its range of living platforms, Moda has a pipeline of 18,400 new homes for rent across the UK. The new tech service will help tens of thousands of renters monitor their energy costs in real-time and enhance the sustainability of their lifestyles.

As the first operator to engage with the new partnership with Spike and Utopi, Moda worked closely with both businesses to design a product that will drive down carbon emissions from Moda’s real estate portfolio while giving residents unprecedented access and control of live information about their homes and wider neighbourhoods.

It forms part of Moda’s commitment to embracing new and leading technologies across its operations to support its ESG strategy, Next Generation Futures and help residents live their happiest, healthiest lives at its rental neighbourhoods across the UK.

Dan Brooks, Director at Moda Living, said: “We are extremely proud to be the first build-to-rent operator in the UK to roll out this crucial technology to our residents and neighbourhoods. As a long-term operator of our developments across the UK, we have a responsibility to our people and our planet to run our UK-wide portfolio as efficiently as possible. We are also dedicated to protecting and enhancing the wellbeing of the teams and residents that live, work and play in our rental communities. This new tie up with Spike and Utopi adds a new level to this, enabling us to communicate transparently about our green performance and help them keep energy costs down as the cost of living soars across the country.” 

Utopi’s Co-Founder & CMO, Ben Roberts, said: “We have been very keen to get the building data we collect into the hands of the residents for a while, we know it has a major impact on a building’s sustainability performance, as the residents are the ones in control of their consumption. We’re thrilled to be rolling our tie up with Spike Global out for the first time with Moda Living – a business dedicated to sustainability and wellbeing in that will champion the benefits our new service provides both the business and its residents.”

Spike Global CEO, Jeremy Heath-Smith, said: “Our clients are increasingly concerned about the climate emergency and not only need to understand their building’s performance but want to use that information to actively engage and encourage residents to reduce their CO2 output and energy consumption. By partnering with Utopi and rolling this service out with Moda, we will be able to make this information readily available via our Spike Living portal, encouraging everyone to make a positive change.”