Friday, August 15, 2008

Branding in Student Housing - Why?

This article is the latest of several I've read that mention the concept of flagging or branding student housing developments across multiple campuses. Flagging is a concept traditionally used in the hotel sector where a property's flag or brand can be just as important as its location, design, or management. Building customer loyalty and having a centralized reservations and rewards system are the main benefits of flagging for hotels, but it doesn't seem like these benefits would apply to student housing because most students don't go from campus to campus, taking their "brand loyalty" with them.

Students make housing choices based on price, amenities, proximity to campus, and of course where their friends live. It seems like student housing developers would be better served by focusing on maximizing these factors, and focusing branding efforts on building a local reputation as the 'cool' place to live instead of attempting to build nationwide brands. Local branding, such as that practiced by Campus Apartments, may make more sense because it focuses on building a reputation among students at each individual university as opposed to creating a nationwide brand that's leveraged over a few campuses. Most students who rent from Campus Apartments don't even realize that the company owns and operates properties nationwide at over 50 campuses, but they do know that it has a great reputation on their campus.

Maybe I'm wrong on this though because the first property under construction for the new Wave's Z Islander flag, mentioned in the article, was able to obtain an 80% LTC construction loan which in today's market is saying that somebody sure thinks it's a great idea.

Llenrock Group

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