The Inside Scoop on Student Housing from #NAASHC17

Posted by Ryan Howard

Chicago Skyline NAA Student Housing Conf.jpg

The National Apartment Association’s annual Student Housing Conference was this week in Chicago. BYL Collections was on-site as an exhibitor, along with our sister company, VeriFirst Background Screening. The conference features the inside scoop on student housing from trends, builders, leasing, property managers and developers.

Here are the latest updates and tips from the NAA Student Housing Conference and Exposition.


Appealing to Millennials – Opening General Session

The conference kicked off mid-day Tuesday with an opening keynote by entrepreneur Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle. Johnny Cupcakes is a t-shirt brand that was started when the owner ordered shirts for his band after high school. His clothing features pop culture references with the addition of cupcakes, an ode to his nickname, Johnny Cupcakes. As his online reputation grew, he started a brick-and-mortar store designed to look (and smell!) like bakeries but selling t-shirts. His unique backstory, outside-the-box marketing style, and popularity among college students offered a great start to the conference.

Breakout Sessions – Tuesday, February 14

The breakout sessions continued to highlight millennials, with topics ranging from community building, both online and in person, to property design changes to attract more students. Some of the sessions included:

  • Facebook Live best practices to build community
  • Student living habits that influence newly requested design trends and amenities
  • Managing the cost of utility expenses
  • Appealing to the parents of students
  • Tips to handle emergencies at your student housing properties

The Exposition center featured over 150 booths and learning opportunities. Some of the highlights of the exposition included roommate matching software and how to create and keep a beautiful property with sustainability programs and green initiatives.

Marketing Strategies – Panel Discussion

On Wednesday, February 15, the conference continued with a panel discussion on marketing techniques used to appeal to your target market. The panel included marketing representatives from successful student housing property companies and offered fresh perspectives on reaching students including:

  • Using more imaging, including emojis, in marketing communications
  • Implementing Snapchat geo-targeting and filters (such as move-in day, graduation and first day of classes) to build brand awareness
  • Engaging with parents to highlight security and availability of study rooms
  • Using PPC (pay per click) ads in conjunction with historical leasing trends
  • Word of mouth marketing by nurturing relationships with the community and school
Breakout sessions – Wednesday, February 15

Wednesday’s breakout sessions focused on more marketing tips as well as ways to manage expenses. Some breakout sessions included:

  • Apartment turn and how to manage it successfully
  • Content ideas for easy social media marketing – Ask questions and lean on your student staff for great ideas
  • Leasing success stories
  • Using innovative technology to improve leasing, operations and customer service
  • Value added services that will appeal to students and their parents
  • How to affect the experience of and attract more international students

The NAASHC exposition offered insights on student surveys including how students search for apartments and what they’re looking for. Other insights of the exposition’s Learning Zone highlighted the push for more technology, IoT (Internet of Things) and Virtual Reality as a way to appeal and market to students.

The conference ended with Mel Robbins, a CNN contributor focused on human behavior and motivation. Her general session seems a fitting end to the conference. Property owners and other companies are doing their best to stay ahead of the curve as their market continues to look for what’s next. What motivates and appeals to millennials and college students? Many thanks to NAASHC for putting together great sessions to solve the mystery and get reliable answers… at least until next year.

Check out more conference highlights by following the #NAASHC17 hashtag on Twitter. Follow BYL Collections on Twitter too!


BYL Collections NAA Student Housing.jpg


Topics: Student Housing