Making Move-Ins Memorable: 6 Expert Tips
By Summer Palma
Its that time of yeara fresh flock of students spreading their wings and heading off to their new digs at schooland move-in day is a critical opportunity to connect with residents and their parents.
I still clearly remember the day (it couldnt be 20 years ago, could it?) that I moved into my first off-campus apartment, a lovely four-bedroom in Rams Village near Colorado State University. It was such an exciting time for me and my roommates, not yet realizing the real struggles ahead, such as who will be responsible for buying toilet paper.
Many students leaving home to attend school will be living on their own for the first time, and priority No. 1 (whether or not they realize it) will be to immediately seek out a communityto feel a sense of belonging. As a student housing manager, how can we better connect with residents and parents throughout the leasing lifecycle? According to Kim Cory, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for EdR Collegiate Housing, it all starts by making move-in day a positive, memorable experience.
Think of move-in day like your wedding day: The rehearsal, the ceremony and the reception, Cory says. During a June 28 MultifamilyInsiders.com Webinar, Preparing for Move-In Day Mania, she emphasized the importance of involving parents, over-communicating expectations, personalizing the move-in experience and making it fun.
If you need some inspiration for making a great first impression, keep reading. Im spilling six of Kims expert tips here.
The Rehearsal: Planning and Preparation
Tip 1: Utilize Online Leasing. According to Cory, one technology that has revolutionized the student housing sector during the past several years is online leasing. EdR relies heavily on this to expedite leasing and renewals. Students apply to floorplans, pick lease terms and payment options based on the school semester or quarter, qualify separately from their guarantors and immediately execute the lease via electronic signature. That way, when they walk in on move-in day, all thats left to do is grab their keys.
And for students who walk in that havent pre-leased, staff can quickly see whats still available and electronically execute the lease documents.
Tip 2: Communicate Via Mail and Email. Dont be afraid to over-communicate. Start communicating with students and parents well before move-in day. Some ideas beyond the standard welcome letter include:
- A Save the date. Get them excited about move-in day coming soon.
- Things to know before move in day, with reminders and information about what the experience will be like.
- Dont forget information. For example, renters insurance is due by move in!
The Ceremony: The Big Day
Tip 3: Have Big, Bold Signage. Again, dont be afraid to over-communicate, and that certainly extends to written directions and signage. For example:
- Have help signage that assists residents in navigating to check-ins and various stations.
- Have staff wear fun, matching shirts. Go with something unique that shows youre a united team, youre here to have fun and youre here to help them.
- Make them feel excited and confident that they made the right choice to live at your community by displaying big posters that include lifestyle photos.
Tip 4: Personalize the Move-in Experience. Personalization isnt just for sneakers and junk mail, it can truly assist new students (and their parents) in feeling at home, such as:
- Give branded move-in gifts for both parents and students. For instance, maybe a cleaning kit for parents and a kitchen utensil set for students.
- Set a memory jar out asking something like What are you most excited about this year living at [Community Name]? Ask if they are comfortable sharing their favorite memory on social media.
The Reception: Where the Fun Happens
Tip 5: Appoint Welcome Ambassadors. Make your residents feel at home! Publicize a Welcome Week where you have something planned each day to get them excited about whats in store while living at your community.
Send your troops out as welcome ambassadors, knocking on doors with beverages and goodies. Checking in with new residents to see how theyre doing and if they need help with anything not only helps solve immediate challenges, but also clues them in about who to go if questions arise in the future.
Tip 6: Make It Social. Your newest residents have been raised on a steady diet of social media and messaging apps. There are many ways to leverage this fact, including:
- Hold social media contests that engage residents. Encourage them to tag you in their move in day picture using your designated hashtag.
- Have selfie stations around your community, such as the pool and fitness center. You might even give out selfie sticks as swag during move-in.
Summer Palma is Online Marketing Manager at On-site.com in San Francisco. Get the full set of Corys tips in the webinar, Preparing for Move-In Day Mania. Its one of four topics in the Student Housing Essentials Series via NAAEI, Multifamily Insiders, and the Apartment All Stars.