Leveraging Technology to Attract Student Renters [Beyond the Basics]

Kristi Stevens

12 minutes read

Today's students are digital natives, born and raised in a world saturated with technology. It's not just a tool; it's an extension of themselves, and their expectations for their living environment reflect this digital reality. Gone are the days of programming key fobs and endless paperwork; tech-savvy students crave convenience, personalization, and an engaging experience that mirrors their online worlds. Property owners need to go beyond basic amenities to attract this discerning demographic.

Embracing a winning combo of technology-driven strategies can work wonders in the student rental housing market. The secret to success lies in leveraging virtual leasing agents (VLAs), gamification, and cutting-edge smart apartment technology brought together on websites that wow. Stay ahead of the competition by offering an unforgettable and tech-driven experience, you can attract, engage, and retain today's students - a highly sought-after and valued population segment.  

Virtual Leasing Agents:  Your 24/7 Matchmaker, Always On Duty

Forget the limitations of traditional leasing hours. VLAs, powered by AI, act as tireless leasing agents, available 24/7 to cater to students' needs. Imagine a student browsing your website late at night, unsure about a specific floor plan. Instead of waiting for an email response, a friendly VLA instantly engages them, highlights the plan's unique features, and suggests similar options based on their preferences. This immediate engagement and personalized communication capture leads at the crucial first touchpoint, especially for busy students across time zones.

VLAs go beyond greetings and FAQs. They can:

  • Streamline the leasing process: Offer online college student applications, lease signing, and rent payments for a truly digital experience.
  • Answer complex questions: Equipped with vast knowledge about your apartments, amenities, and surrounding area, they act as virtual concierges.
  • Nurture leads: Send targeted information, promotions, and reminders, keeping your apartments at the forefront of their minds.
  • Gather valuable data: Analyze user behavior and preferences to optimize marketing and tailor offerings to student needs.

While VLAs offer amazing capabilities, remember to choose one catering to your specific student demographic. Tech-savvy students might appreciate features like AI-powered recommendations or 3D tours. Prioritize a seamless user experience with natural language understanding, fast response times, and intuitive interfaces. Transparency and robust security are crucial for data privacy. Remember, the human touch remains key. Seamless integration with 24/7 leasing agents ensures personalized interaction for complex inquiries and closing deals. 

Now, imagine amplifying this engagement with gamification. Let's delve into how gamification can further elevate your student outreach strategy!

Gamification - Convert and Engage Student Renters

Traditional apartment hunting can feel mundane, especially for students accustomed to engaging in online experiences. But what if you could transform it into a game? Gamification elements like points, rewards, and leaderboards can boost engagement, incentivize action, and set you apart from the competition.

Student happily winning using gamification during the virtual leasing agent experience

Imagine walking into a digital wonderland where apartment hunting becomes an exciting quest led by your personal Virtual Leasing Agent. Forget static forms and never-ending email exchanges. Your VLA guides you through a gamified journey, awarding points for exploring virtual tours, unlocking property specials for completing tasks, and challenging you to scavenger hunts within the complex. Imagine earning bonus points for early applications or referring friends, climbing leaderboards for top referrals, and unlocking exclusive content as you progress. This is the magic of gamification powered by VLAs! By transforming the search into an engaging adventure, VLAs capture student attention and incentivize action, boosting engagement and conversions. It's a win-win scenario where students have fun navigating their housing options while you stand out with a truly innovative approach.

By integrating gamification components, you can transform the once-mundane apartment search from a chore into an exciting adventure, enabling you to schedule more tours and seamlessly convert leads into leases. 

Now that you have your students drawn in and interacting, entice them by showcasing PropTech, the fusion of property and technology, landlords can transform their apartments into tech-driven havens that cater to the modern student's needs. 

Smart Apartments: Where Convenience Meets Wow Factor

Smart features and connected living experiences further boost your competitive edge and create a truly engaging and personalized living environment for your residents. Embrace the "wow factor" with tech-integrated apartments that cater to students' desire for convenience and innovation. Forget clunky keys and inconvenient thermostats. Offer features like:

  • Keyless entry with fingerprint or app-based access: No more worrying about lost keys, offering peace of mind and added security.
  • Smart thermostats and lighting: Empower students to control their environment remotely, adjusting temperature and lighting preferences for ultimate comfort and energy efficiency.
  • Voice-activated assistants: Imagine students dimming the lights, playing music, or ordering takeout with a simple voice command. These hands-free features offer convenience and a futuristic touch.
  • Smart appliances: From preheating the oven on the way home to starting the dishwasher remotely, smart appliances add a layer of convenience and luxury to everyday tasks.

While embracing technology is key, remember inclusivity reigns supreme. Not every student identifies as tech-savvy, so offer a balanced blend of smart features and traditional options to cater to diverse preferences. Accessibility is paramount, ensuring all students can enjoy the benefits of property technology regardless of ability. Emphasize how innovative features enhance comfort and convenience or highlight eco-friendly features that lead to reduced energy costs. By striking this balance and emphasizing the true benefits, you create a desirable living environment that moves you ahead of the competition.

Websites that Wow: Captivate Student Renters with More Than Just Pictures

Today's students are digital natives. Your apartment website is their first impression and needs to grab their attention in seconds. Forget flat, static photos! To truly capture student attention, go beyond the basics and weave a story with lifestyle photography. Showcase students laughing in common areas, focusing on well-lit study lounges, or enjoying vibrant community events. This helps them project themselves into your living environment, fostering an emotional connection.

But don't stop there! Elevate the experience with immersive 360° virtual and video tours. Let students wander apartments, common areas, and amenities as if they were physically there. Highlight unique features like rooftop terraces, quiet study nooks, or state-of-the-art fitness centers. Finally, add a layer of interactivity with customizable floor plans. Allow students to virtually arrange furniture, experiment with color palettes, and personalize their dream space. This engaging element makes apartment hunting fun and reinforces the feeling of ownership, even before they move in.

Mobile-First is a Must:

Students are glued to their smartphones. Ensure your apartment website is fully optimized for mobile devices, offering a seamless browsing experience on any screen size. Optimize images, minimize loading times, and make buttons and forms easy to navigate with touchscreens.

smart phone displaying a mobile friendly apartment website

Keep in mind:

  • Integrate resident testimonials and video reviews. Let current residents share their positive experiences, highlighting what makes your community special.
  • Feature engaging blog content. Create blog posts that cater to student interests, like budget-friendly recipes, study tips, or guides to exploring the surrounding area. 
  • Personalization is key. Use data and analytics to tailor website content and offerings to specific student segments.
  • Accessibility matters. Ensure your website is accessible to students with disabilities. Compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) means it is accessible to everyone. Creating an inclusive environment for students with disabilities demonstrates your commitment to social responsibility and potentially reaches a wider audience.
  • Community is king. Highlight the sense of belonging and vibrant social life your community offers.
  • Data privacy and security are crucial. Build trust with transparent data practices.

Transform your apartment website from a static brochure into a dynamic, engaging platform that resonates with tech-savvy students and attracts them to your thriving community.

Ditch the Outdated Image of Student Housing!

Set your community apart. Imagine a future where apartments become more than just four walls; they transform into connected, personalized, and engaging spaces that seamlessly integrate with students' digital lives. This creates a fulfilling experience that fosters community, enhances well-being, and attracts them to choose your property over the competition. Leverage an immersive experience that sets you apart by embracing this future of student housing, you unlock a fulfilling experience for residents and success for your community. It's time to shine - start today!

Kristi Stevens

Content strategist - My mission is to fuel the growth of the multi-family industry by crafting impactful blog content and innovative solutions.


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