Threshold attended the 6th Annual InterFace Student Housing Conference here in Austin, Texas.
The topic of international student recruitment was discussed at both a roundtable and panel. Over the past 10 years there has been a 40% increase in international student enrollment with the majority of students coming from China and Saudi Arabia, according to Kim Cory, Director of Student Media at For Rent University.
Student housing managers can no longer ignore this large and growing target market. Consider having dedicated staff members who are solely focused on the recruiting and retaining international students. It’s also important to develop a separate marketing plan specific to international students.
With dedicated resources and a plan in place, here are some great and innovative examples of marketing to international college students:
Find a current international student resident to act as an “ambassador” between your community and international students. Consider offering this resident a leasing incentive.
Create a page on your website specifically for international students with information about the lease process, public transportation details, maps with points of interests like banks, grocery stores, shopping, etc. See this community’s page near Michigan State University for example.
Location, followed by fully furnished and community events/programming are key selling points for international students.
Make sure your digital media campaigns extend to other countries. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and many other popular sites are banned in China. Tailor your SEO to search sites popular in other countries. And find out what social networks are popular. In China, it’s all about Renren – a near carbon copy of Facebook.
Just like American students, international students like to procrastinate. Most schools have international student orientations in August. If you’re still leasing, see if you can set up a booth or sponsor food for the orientation.
And like so many other student housing marketing practices, marketing to international students varies by market. Be sure to understand your market, what countries are popular at your university and your communities’ competitive advantage. From there, it’s all about the implementation.