Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) operators play a vital role in offering students a secure and comfortable living environment as they pursue their education. However, towards the end of the academic year, many companies often experience a sense of panic, facing challenges in efficiently filling their rooms. At UCAS, we emphasise the importance of treating the task of filling beds as a year-long strategy. By actively promoting your accommodation and adopting an effective approach, you can achieve optimal room occupancy throughout the year.
Our goal is to help you maximise your student housing potential and ensure a steady flow of residents for your private halls. Clearing, often associated with the month of August, has evolved into a significant period of opportunity for universities and students alike. In this blog post, we will explore how marketing efforts can extend beyond August. We understand the evolving landscape of student accommodation and recognise the importance of a comprehensive marketing strategy, when you work with us we provide valuable information and tips to help you navigate the challenges and make the most of the Clearing period and beyond.
The pitfalls of last-minute marketing
Relying solely on marketing efforts during the final months of the student year is a costly and inefficient strategy for student accommodation. By not engaging with students year-round, companies miss out on opportunities to create brand awareness, establish relationships, and position themselves as the preferred choice for student accommodation. Clearing is traditionally viewed as a last resort but it has transformed over the years into a strategic choice for students seeking alternative university placements. It is no longer limited to a narrow window in August but rather a dynamic process that commences earlier in the year, providing ample time for accommodation providers to engage with prospective students.
Beyond first year: Targeting second-year students
While first-year students often prioritise university halls for convenience and socialisation, second-year students typically seek more independent accommodation as they form friendship groups. A year-long marketing plan allows PBSA to establish themselves as the leading accommodation provider from the beginning of first year (and even before then).
Building relationships and nurturing prospective students
By engaging with students throughout the year, PBSA can build strong relationships and nurture prospective tenants. This approach enables students to make informed decisions about their living arrangements, contributing to a sense of community and fostering a greater likelihood of positive word-of-mouth recommendations. This goes way beyond purely sales messaging; it is being positioned as a company of trust and responsibility.
The benefits of collaborating with UCAS
Partnering with UCAS, the centralised application system for UK universities, can significantly enhance the effectiveness of a year-long marketing plan. UCAS possesses a wealth of data and insights into student demographics, preferences, and behaviour. Leveraging this information, PBSA can tailor marketing campaigns to target specific student segments effectively at different stages of the year.
Long-term cost savings
Implementing a long-term marketing strategy and plan with UCAS allows PBSA to reduce costs in the long run. By spreading marketing efforts across the entire year, companies can avoid the need for panic-driven, last-minute advertising campaigns. This approach ensures a steady stream of enquiries and bookings which focuses on increasing conversion rates. Reducing the risk of empty rooms and maximising revenue.
Encouraging PBSA to adopt a long-range marketing plan in collaboration with UCAS presents numerous benefits. By initiating early engagement, maintaining regular communication, and providing valuable information to students, operators can increase their occupancy rates, reduce marketing costs, and create a strong sense of community. Embracing this proactive approach to marketing will not only enhance reputation but also contribute to the overall student experience.
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