Investing in the student experience to grow market share with UniLodge Australia
Attracting students and enhancing their residential experience is a key business objective at UniLodge Australia. Had we not set that goal, our market share would not be what is it today. This is because the connection between market share and a great student experience is undeniable.
In fact, many areas of our business are positively impacted by the excellent student experiences we create. Students stay for longer leading to higher occupancy, lower turnover and increased profitability. Positive word of mouth means less time and money spent on marketing. And of course, attracting and retaining students organically grows our market share.
At UniLodge Australia, we know that when it comes to boosting the student experience, efficiency is foundational. But it comes with considerable challenges. That’s why we didn’t attempt to tackle everything at once. Instead, we focused on implementing the processes and tools highlighted below in smaller increments, allowing efficiencies to accumulate over time.
“Staff training costs and implementing policies and procedures all add up. You can’t crystalize that easily and these are the kind of hidden savings that people forget about. It’s about having one common language and one common understanding on how systems work throughout your organization and it’s clearly embedded in everything that we do.”
Tomas Johnsson, CEO at UniLodge Australia
Decentralized and unconnected systems were wasting time and creating unnecessary frustrations. We replaced multiple system instances with a single StarRez solution serving the entire business. This immediately shortened employee onboarding while allowing staff to use the same familiar system as they moved around our properties. To further unify the system, we used the StarRez API to connect with various external providers and payment gateways to automate payments. For our students, offering connected systems has simplified their interactions with us. For example, a mobile app integration allows them to submit and track maintenance requests.
Automated booking engine
By using StarRez to automate our booking process, we have made it easy for students to secure accommodation and freed up staff resources for higher value tasks. Bookings once took 20 odd minutes to complete. Today, they drop straight into the property in just three minutes, without the need for staff involvement. With 30,000 beds currently under management, that’s a lot of time saved.
The finance teams use StarRez to introduce automated month-end reporting. This has eliminated the drudgery of report preparation while ensuring reports are delivered efficiently, accurately and on time.
It’s not just about efficiencies either. The Rez360 view gives us a bird’s eye view of resident activity and engagement, allowing us to measure resident engagement, and apply those insights to redirect operational efforts. Whether through tracking student time in buildings or completing a student survey, we now track the satisfaction of our students and use that data to build out the student experience within budget.
By unifying our systems and automating business processes, we are now using technology far more effectively. No longer bogged down in administration, our team can focus their energy where it makes the most impact – boosting the student experience and growing our market share.
I believe the years spent at university are some of the most influential years of your life. When I walk through our buildings today, I see groups of students using the study rooms, someone playing pool in the corner, a barbeque happening on the rooftop and the rugby team using the sports field. I know we are not just creating extraordinary experiences; we are also contributing to the creation of lifelong memories.
"A business should be focusing on the warm service delivery on the frontend rather than the administration, balancing of the books and getting stuck in technicalities in the office. That’s worth its weight in gold.”
Tomas Johnsson, CEO at UniLodge Australia