More than a decade’s worth of Global Student Living Index (GSL Index) data highlights that when it comes to student accommodation, first impressions have a lasting impact. The moving-in experience plays a critical role in student retention and satisfaction of both UK and international students, and students who have a negative moving-in experience are significantly more likely to become a Net Promoter Score (NPS) Detractor.
While the GSL Index data suggests that accommodation teams have made significant efforts to improve the moving-in experience, there continue to be areas where student expectations are not met. GSL Index data highlights that universities and PBSA providers who address the following issues are much more likely to meet student expectations around moving-in:
- Ensure that rooms and shared spaces are spotlessly clean. Over the past five years student satisfaction with cleanliness has decreased from 82% in 2018 Q4 to 79% in 2022 Q4. Perceptions around cleanliness have a lasting impact on students, and so investing in this area is critical.
- Ensure that parking procedures are clear in advance of moving-in day and that allotted parking areas are easy to find. Parking is consistently the lowest-ranked aspect of the moving-in experience for home and international students alike and is a key contributor to whether or not a student becomes an NPS Detractor. In addition to ensuring that parking procedures and guidelines are circulated in advance, clear signage and having staff on hand in parking areas to direct newcomers and help with luggage are likely to improve the move-in experience.
- Invest in adequate staffing on move-in day. This includes having enough staff to conduct building orientations with small groups of students and ensuring that staff are available beyond normal reception hours if necessary. This is particularly critical for international students who may experience flight delays. Free text responses from students highlight instances of international students arriving at their accommodation but having to check in to a hotel due to the reception being closed or having to wait several hours to gain entrance to their building. Suggestions from students on how to improve move-in include having an online reservation system for a move-in “slot” to ensure that staff are available to help students as required.
- Provide an orientation tour. Students who are NPS detractors frequently mention a lack of orientation to their new surroundings. For international students, this is particularly important – some international students who are NPS Detractors report that they would have liked an orientation to cover issues such as the location of emergency exits, safety procedures, and how to use equipment such as microwaves, ovens and washing machines. Student feedback suggests that a welcome pack which reinforces this information along with other key details such as Wi-Fi passwords is likely to have a positive impact on first impressions.
- Make sure that students are brought together as quickly as possible. Students who are NPS Detractors are less likely to say they feel welcomed by other students, so taking the time to help students form connections with each other as soon as possible is likely to lessen student anxiety in this area.
Throughout the year, the GSL Index surveys hundreds of thousands of students across 15 countries and in 10 different languages, on all aspects of their student accommodation experience. The Index brings together a range of standardised local, regional and global KPIs, alongside bespoke insights from custom questions developed to meet specific needs of accommodation providers.
To get involved in The Index head to the GSL website: https://gsl.news/index/ to register.