Waterford is a town in south-east Ireland, and Waterford IT (WIT) has been there since 1970. They have been using Studentpad for a number of years, but as with so many other colleges and universities, Covid had a huge impact on their student housing and accommodation.
In 2021, WIT began the process of integrating with IT Carlow, and the institutions formally merged to become South-East Technological University (SETU) in May 2022. This was a difficult time for the private rented sector across Ireland and the U.K., and for student accommodation in particular.
The problems for SETU were exacerbated by the fact that a number of large, protected-rent developments were sold off several years ago, which had the effect of severely limiting options for affordable student accommodation in the area.
This combination of factors left the accommodation team facing a perfect storm in 2021. Since that time, the merger with IT Carlow has introduced a new location with additional student accommodation needs.
In spite of the difficulties they faced, the team managed a very successful launch, and they were able to address their accommodation shortfall through hard work and a three-step strategy.
Step 1 - was a review of the landlord recruitment strategy and a full engagement campaign with providers.
Professor Campbell is keenly aware that accommodation remains uppermost in the minds of students and their parents saying, “Once again, demand for student accommodation will be high and the aim of SETU Studentpad is to give our students access to quality accommodation near to where they study.”
Jacqui O’Connor, SETU’s Head of Accommodation, explains: “SETU Studentpad offers householders or landlords an excellent opportunity to market their rooms or properties to a readymade audience. Leaving Certificate results are out on Friday, 2 September, and I would encourage homeowners and landlords to sign up for free and have their ads in place on the SETU Studentpad platform as soon as possible.
Home owners have complete control over the rooms they rent. Many SETU students have different requirements. For instance, some students will want to rent a room mid-week only while their course runs.”
Step 2 - Engagement with the Students’ Union – In turn they used their platforms and social media to promote Studentpad to students.
This series of media activity and campaigns started in 2021.
The result was a massive increase in the number of newly recruited landlords:
• 118 Landlords registered at the end of 2020
• 353 New landlords registered between early 2021 and 2022
The site also saw a massive increase in visitors, with over 20k visitors during August and September 2022, and over 52,000 users since September 2021.
This was a fantastic increase, and the next step was to help the landlords to list their properties. This was done using the guidance and videos, and during open sessions.
The team also reviewed the Studentpad site to ensure it met the needs of students and landlords, and that the message was relevant to the new SETU branding.
Derek Delaney Accommodation Manager at SETU, was the driving force behind the project. He felt that the strong engagement in year 1 of the project really helped to make the renewals go smoothly in 2022.
Step 3 - will be the launch of a new site, the latest of the Studentpad designs in the coming months.
Additional Top Tips from Accommodation Teams across the UK and Ireland!
Accommodation teams across the UK and Ireland are also currently working hard to engage with landlords. They have been using a number of techniques to expand their accommodation offering.
• Staff - Reaching out to university staff to ask if they have spare rooms to offer or if they know any prospective landlords
• Working with the Students’ Union:
• Campaigns to recruit landlords or agents from alumni students via the Student’s Union – graduates are a great source of potential resident landlords or even landlords or agents in the area
• Ask them to organise a leaflet drop to local areas
• Use all media channels available to raise awareness
• Contacting guest houses to negotiate longer term rates
• Contacting embassies to see if they could reach out to their communities.
• Community out reach, including:
• Contacting religious Leaders in the local churches, mosques, temples to reach out to their communities
• Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club
• ICA (Irish Country Women’s Assoc), ‘Men’s Sheds’ or community groups, Active Retired, Mothers Union and WI’s (Women’s Institute)
• Adding the ‘by the night’ rate to Studentpad (free feature) to allow staff/resident landlords to offer Monday to Friday accommodation during term time or at peak times
• Using the Studentpad tools to ensure the site works really well for PBSAs/private halls listings and Letting Agents listings including:
• Adding PBSA/Letting Agent logos
• Data feed- automated data feed/property upload- (free for 6 months !)
• Adding bespoke PBSA features such as private study rooms/security/onsite gyms
• Video walkthroughs
• Floor plans
• Featured properties
• Private hall quick links
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