homestartup NewsChanging with the times: Why organised companies run the show in student housing

Changing with the times: Why organised companies run the show in student housing

Changing with the times: Why organised companies run the show in student housing
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By Anindya Dutta  Sept 19, 2019 1:55:00 PM IST (Updated)

As per industry estimates, nearly 8 million migrant students are dependent on private housing options and this number is expected to increase at a rate of 8 percent year-on-year – further bolstering demand for dedicated student accommodation solutions.

The need for dedicated student housing solutions has been a historic one, considering millions migrate domestically to urban economic centres for better higher education, career and lifestyle opportunities. Over the years, increased internet penetration has augmented this migration by creating a more aware, aspirational and risk-taking population that is willing to explore transient lifestyles. This population base is prioritising personal and professional growth as opposed to being tied down to a geography, due to social, cultural or economic constraints. As per industry estimates, nearly 8 million migrant students are dependent on private housing options and this number is expected to increase at a rate of 8 percent year-on-year – further bolstering demand for dedicated student accommodation solutions.

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On the flip side, the dominance of fragmented and unorganised housing solutions and their failure to bridge the demand-supply gap has been the sad reality of the sector. With dilapidated buildings, cramped and over-accommodated PGs, poorly maintained spaces, unhygienic food and limited amenities, customer experience has been the biggest casualty. Fixing management of these set-ups is not a high priority for most mom-and-pop providers and residence owners. Hence, we feel, the hunt for quality accommodation and hassle-free management of daily living needs causes repeated and significant loss of time and resources for students, which would otherwise be more appropriately spent in fulfilling educational aspirations and in the pursuit of personal and professional experiences.
Lifestyle preferences
Also, traditional PGs and hostels are out of touch with the actual needs and aspirations of the student community. Rather, student lifestyle preferences have often been scrutinised as inimical to the atmosphere of residential communities – creating a further need for separate, student-specific housing solutions that allow freedom of lifestyle choices.
Organised student housing companies, with their new-age outlook and a focus on professional management, are creating massive differentiation over existing PGs and hostels, attracting high consumer interest.
  • Growing demand for a comprehensive, hassle-free living solution: Our engagement with parents and students from across Tier I, II and III cities, has revealed a universal preference for a fully serviced accommodation experience that covers the daily hassles of food, mobility, housekeeping, community engagements, security, to name a few. And this demand is replicated across geographies – currently 55 percent of our residence-base comprises students from Tier II and beyond cities, and we see a healthy inventory occupation in cities like Dehradun, Indore, Vadodara and Coimbatore, apart from typical education hubs like Delhi and Bangalore.
  • Against varying standards of service and infrastructure quality currently available in the market, professionally managed student housing companies are driving high quality, benchmarked offerings that deliver a comprehensive and convenient living experience. Students now don’t have to worry about the hassles of paying bills for diverse amenities, maintenance of their residential space, housekeeping and other service concerns.
    • Development of hospitality led, tech-enabled concepts that reduce rental friction points: Considering the amount of time they spend in residence ecosystems, consumers feel these should be an extension of their lifestyles and a mirror of their consumption behaviours. They value:
    • Deep personalisation of consumer experience: As digital natives, they have a high preference for service providers that offer seamless technology interventions – virtual property tours, automated documentation and rent-management, tech-enabled daily service access, app-based updates, preference e-selections, grievance redressal mechanisms and more. These allow real-time, professionally managed interface between property managers and students, which are a welcome replacement to the typical tenant-landlord friction points. Additionally, providers are focusing on delivering AI-enabled consumer experiences built on – mapping consumption behaviours, pre-empting consumer needs and creating solutions that can be replicated at scale. Professional student accommodation companies are getting brownie points for ‘personalisation’, form consumers
    • Evolution of real-estate product and set-up of benchmark standards: An equivalent focus has been given to create smartly planned, vibrant living spaces and well-maintained buildings that ensure high-quality living. Real differentiation in inventory is happening by uniquely engaging with each building and finding design-based solutions for property overhaul. This is a striking contrast to the cramped and ill-maintained options that currently abound in the sector. Another layer of customer-focused differentiation comes from IoT-enabled infrastructure covering aspects of security (biometric access), planning (building-use mapping) and management (building intelligence systems) etc – leading to a sustainable, scalable and transformative residence experience.
    • Today, student accommodation providers are in a position to create even greater value for their offerings. With a large captive audience set, they can extend engagements beyond providing a place to stay, to taking care of a host of short and long-term lifestyle needs. Professionally managed student accommodation providers like us have begun to re-define student living in the country. The real impact will now be created by delivering unique, curated and superlative consumer experiences at scale.
      Anindya Dutta is the MD and Co-founder of Stanza Living.
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