The US student housing market is booming, with Axiometrics reporting strong performance year-over-year in new beds added, leasing velocity and average effective rent growth.
As developers and owners plan new communities—or revamp existing ones—many are recognizing a growing shift in their resident populations. We’re talking about Generation Z here, born in the late 90s and after.
The eldest are already in the middle of college, and their fellow Gen Z-ers are in high school and starting to think about what they want and need from their college experience.
“Gen-Z” will be larger and more influential than Millennials. —Goldman Sachs & Co.
While there have been a lot of finger-wagging articles talking about resort-style pools, tanning beds and fitness centers, there’s another amenity that can make a real competitive difference for communities. By implementing a resident mobile app, properties can serve their increasingly Gen-Z resident population better and more meaningfully—with no construction or renovation required.
Let’s take a look at why resident mobile apps make so much sense for student housing.
For Gen Z, mobile convenience is table stakes
Today’s college students—and tomorrow’s students even more so—have never known a world without Google. They don’t remember a time before social media. They’re driving the sharing economy with services like Uber and Lyft. Gen Z expects to use their smartphones to manage their busy lives. According to The Center For Generational Kenetics, Gen Z (or “iGen”) “has a different experience with technology than Millennials, which will affect every area of their life—from healthcare and dating to education and shopping. What is most interesting is that what worked for Millennials does not seem to be working as well with iGen…”
According to a recent study by Common Sense Media, 67% of all US teens have their own smartphone. Among higher-income families, that figure rises to 78%. Teens who use a smartphone spend an average of 4.38 hours per day using it. As <href=”#2e3acbf71588″ target=”_blank”>Forbes contributor The Hartman Group put it, “Technology is central to every aspect of their lives, from socializing to schoolwork, entertainment to exercise, relaxation to reference.”
Why should their living environment be any different? With a resident mobile app, properties can make it easy for students to receive package deliveries, check the availability of study rooms or gym equipment via video feed, book services and reserve amenities, manage visitor lists, submit work orders and much more. Every service offered to residents can be immediately accessible through the app.
Gen Z craves community and suffers FOMO
As the first generation to grow up with social media, today’s teens are exposed to a barrage of exciting images of other people’s adventures. It’s easy to feel like everybody’s having an amazing time but you. That’s FOMO (fear of missing out) in a nutshell. However, as youth expert Kelly Lovell explains in Inc., brands can “use the desire of youth to be part of a community to create an environment where they feel special, proud, and [a] sense of exclusivity.”
For student housing brands, a property mobile app can keep residents in the loop about community activities on a daily or even hourly basis. Push notifications can provide timely alerts of evening activities the moment residents walk in the door. Daily or weekly digests can provide an overview of upcoming events, such as pool parties, mixers, study groups and game nights. Engagement can be personalized to who the resident is, where he or she is within the property, and what he or she might be doing. All on the platform Gen Z most prefers (their phones).
Mobile apps for property management
Keeping in mind that much of your on-site staff may be Gen Z or Millennials, mobile apps are just as compelling for management and operations needs. Look for built-in resident communication tools like SMS, push notifications and email options, with the ability to integrate with any existing data sources (like your CRM). Consider a branded sales and leasing app with floor plans, amenities, pricing and online applications.
Phunware has developed and built solutions for some of the world’s leading residential developments—including mobile apps that serve multi-property owners with different branding and features for each community. Our expert team is here to help you provide a more connected and empowering learning/living environment for Gen Z, while streamlining management and operations. See how these properties are using mobile apps to deliver convenience and efficiency: