On April 5th we attended one of the biggest industry events in the student housing business: The Interface Student Housing two-day conference in Austin, Texas. This is one of the most important and well-attended events in the sector with an attendance of over 1,200 top industry players. With our networking focused agenda, it was essential for TCAS Online to be present at this event.
This conference included over 20 panels featuring 100+ high-level speakers and presenters and also education sessions on leasing, management, operations and finance.
THE INTERFACE STUDENT HOUSING EXPERIENCE IN AUSTIN, TEXAS.
The event was recommended to us by Richard Kelley, a publisher of the student housing business for Media France while we were at the NAA Conference in Chicago, last February. We were interested in building momentum and this event was perfect for networking and learning more about the housing industry in the States. It was also an opportunity to meet and learn from some of the largest operators of student housing in the USA market.
In a similar fashion to the NAA Conference in Chicago, the reception we received was extremely positive; all attendees (both delegates & exhibitors) we made contact with were very welcoming and extremely helpful. The vibe was good when we informed people of our offering and there definitely appeared to be a requirement for a new property software platform specialised in the student housing sector like ours.Networking opportunities were very diverse ranging from cocktail receptions to networking lounges and even a golf tournament for attendees (which unfortunately we didn’t win). This was a fantastic approach as it gave us the opportunity to connect in different circumstances that were more natural and we got to know more about industry-leading vendors and their needs in a natural context. We also had the opportunity to observe how good Americans are at golf. We played golf with Mich Ehly, COO and Dominic Anzalone, CEO of RentCollegePads. Shout out to Mitch who won the longest drive and nearest the pin competitions!
Like all events we attend, our goal is to try to learn as much as we can about what tier one clients need and how we can address their pain points by creating solutions that will maximise their ROI from their assets when using our property management software. It is important to listen, keep up to date on the requirements vendors may have and also to form relationships with other vendors who may have complementary offerings to ours. Integration with best of breed offerings is a big part of our strategy as we are keen to facilitate the end-end management of student housing facilities.
- There was a significant presence of international operators looking to experience the USA market (Irish, Brazilian, Canadian, English…) We were very glad to see how keen people were in learning more about our solutions and in helping to spread the word about TCAS Online.
- We appreciated the fact that the delegate list was released in advance of the conference so we were able to be highly selective during networking sessions.
- Unfortunately, there was no mobile phone app to contact other delegates which made it a bit complicated to get the names of people since the letters in the badges were very small. In our last conference in Chicago, the NAA conference, they had an app for this and it was very useful. But overall, the number of networking situations that were organised at the event compensated for this small detail.
- It was a pleasure to be invited by Denise Cunningham, Principal at Oracle Real Estate Group LLC, to participate in a roundtable focused on companies that are developing business relationships and seeking to partner or team with companies internationally.
- The topics discussed were among others: international market trends such as design for the international student residents, international student enrollment trends, international financing and foreign investments opportunities.
Other participants of the round table were International Student Housing Opportunities and the conversation was led by Mike Porritt, Director of Advisory Services of Scion (Canada).
- The SHB Open – Golf Tournament was one of our favourite moments of the event as we met industry leaders and vendors and we were able to talk about the housing business in a very informal and fun context.
- We also enjoyed a party organised by the student.com industry party. This was another fantastic and relaxed way to meet industry leaders in the housing business.
WHAT WE TAKE WITH US
Austin is a fantastic city, with great weather and very collaborative and proactive people to do business with.
Barry & Dylan came away from the event with a lot of industry information, specific pain points from operators, many new connections and most importantly a positive feeling regarding TCAS Online’s property management software and their market entry strategy into the United States.
We are looking forward to attending this conference again next year and to meet everybody and to get to know more of these top industry players.
Written by E. Soriano