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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.