Every building and its tenants are different. They come with varying characteristics, demands and needs. Continuously improving customer satisfaction is the core duty of all building operators. Auditing how the fundamental operations work for each unique building always pays off to understand what tenants need and demand from the life in their buildings.
The 2022 Q4 tenant demands and needs survey and webinar by Spaceflow and Parcel Tracker, conducted with 306 UK-based purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) tenants, the majority of whom range from 15 to 25 years old, brings valuable predictions regarding what trends will shape customer experience in student accommodation in 2023.
When asked the question ‘What factor is the most important for your living experience’ tenants answered that the location and neighbourhood (75%) and the size of their apartment/room (68%) are their first choices.
When asked the question ‘What tech enabler is the most important for an easier and more enjoyable living’, tenants answered that digital parcel services (72%) and online issue reporting (67%) are their first priorities.
The survey results highlight the following:
1. Location remains as the single most important aspect for young tenants’ living experience. “I remember that when I was a student, I wanted to be as close as possible to the university, also close to where things are happening. Everyone who studied at the university can relate to that. Though these days the character of the location changes fast, as the up-and-coming neighbourhood of the year is a constantly evolving notion, especially in cities like London, considering examples like Peckham or Brixton,” says Ben Lampard from Spaceflow.
2. For more than 60% of tenants,the size of their apartment or room is important, while the interior design of the place is a second priority. “The asset type and age group play a role in this. A popular Gen Z trend is to be more into experiences than material things. Some of these tenants live in old properties, and some in new – but all of them are well-maintained. I believe that what they care more about is the general convenience or experience,” says Arthur Zargaryan from Parcel Tracker.
3. The tenants are evenly distributed on the level of importance they attribute to the community in their buildings. “PBSA communities are a bit different from other residential communities. We observe that their communities flourish without the support of the building management. After the initial spark in the first week with a welcome event, they find their own communities or friend groups,” remarks Zargaryan.
4. For almost 75% of the tenants, parcel management and issue reporting are the priority tech add-ons to their life in buildings. Online payments and smart access to the building are also valuable tech add-ons. “It comes down to the fundamentals of how a building works. You can build the fanciest building in the world, but if you can’t deal with simple problems, you won’t make tenants happy. Issue reporting and parcel management are two of the fundamentals that you need to make right, simple and easy. You stand a higher chance of keeping tenants satisfied if you let them know how a maintenance issue is being resolved,” underlines Ben Lampard.
Action Points for 2023
What are the learnings from these results for the residential operators with young tenants? How can they make use of this survey and data to improve their operations?
Arthur and Ben agree: We recommend all operators to audit their services regularly. Simply make sure that your fundamental operations are working well for a stress-free living. This can be as simple as the internet connection in the building, or issue reporting and parcel management. Also note that what didn’t come as a priority now may change drastically the next year. For example, now students don’t track their energy consumption because they pay for energy bills included in the rent. That might change with the ongoing and future energy struggles. That is why regular auditing and keeping track of trends come crucial.