When it comes to leasing in student housing, gearing a large amount of time and effort towards marketing to international students can really help to fill a community quickly. The number of international students studying abroad in the States continues to climb each year with 764,321 in the 2011-2012 school year and skyrocketing to nearly 820,000 in the 2012-2013 school year.
As the number continues to increase each year, the demand for housing continues to increase as well for these international students. International students are no different than domestic students when it comes to what they are looking for in housing, but even more so than the domestic students, word-of-mouth is going to reign even more supreme as a source of traffic.
Therefore, it is important as a student housing community that every effort is made to make the transition as easy and comfortable as possible for international students coming into the States looking for housing. With that being said here are five tips that could help your community to potentially secure more international student leases if executed properly:
1. Update your website to allow for multiple language options: Having a drop down menu to allow an international student to view your website in their primary language could not only lead to more leases via your website, but also reduce the hassle the student may have on their end. Plus, the parents of the student may feel more comfortable with your website if it is easy to read in their own language.
2. Create multilingual shirts for staff members: Have employees on staff that are from another country? Perhaps look into getting community shirts made that have a message such as, “Call our community home,” in their origin country’s language that they can wear around campus. This could lead to some great conversations between the staff member and potential prospects, as well as make international students at your community feel a little bit more comfortable knowing someone is on staff that speaks their primary language.
3. Reach out to high schools in other countries: If you know there are a few major countries that most international students at your community come from, it may not hurt to try to potentially make a contact with some high schools in those respective countries. This tip may be a little bit more difficult to maneuver, but a great starting point would be to work directly with any current residents you have who may be able to initiate the potential conversations in order to open this door for you.
4. Host cultural merging events at your community: Oftentimes it is a rough transition for not only international students living at a community, but also for domestic students who will potentially be living with international students. With that in mind host events that encourage the bridging of the cultural gaps. There is nothing like having a pot luck type event where everyone brings a local dish from their country, or state for the domestic students, to really allow for a learning experience for all parties involved.
5. Be an ambassador to the International Student Life office: Make it a point to visit the International Student Life office, or whichever office it may be at your in town University that assists with the locating of housing for international students, at least once a week. These offices can be major influences on not only which communities the students visit, but can also be very guiding in leading the students towards the personal favorite on the community list.
These are just a few tips to hopefully help your community be able to attract as many international students as possible. By no means is this all of the ways to make your community more appealing to international students, but it is at least a start in the right direction towards allowing you to make your community the home away from home international students will be searching for.