Aspen Heights Goes Greek and Wins Student Housing Award


When Aspen Heights has its eye on developing a new student housing community, you can bet everybody on campus is going to know about it.

The eight-year-old student housing provider based in Austin, Texas, does a full-out marketing blitz to announce its arrival. The campus and nearby businesses and organizations are natural targets, but a trip down Greek Row is not at all out of the question.

Social Media Success Makes Aspen Heights the Real Winner

The company leveraged its marketing to capture the attention of sororities and fraternities through a social media contest – the Aspen Heights Greek Giveaway – that contributed to a swift lease-up of its new Clemson, S.C., property in 2013.

Using the platform, Aspen Heights drove engagement on its Facebook page by pitting sororities against each other in a “Battle of the Greeks” for three days in September 2012. The organization that received the most votes won the grand prize of $750 to go to their philanthropy. Others that posted 500 votes or more got $250 toward their philanthropy.

The battle generated 1,524 fans, nearly doubling previous counts through previous Aspen Heights Facebook marketing efforts. The contest – won by Zeta Tau Alpha by just a laurel over Delta Zeta – also resulted in 6,356 clicks to the contest link (including 5,734 unique users) and 2,554 total votes.

When the dust settled, Aspen Heights was the clear winner. Their website had 1.9 million page impressions across 248,000 users in three days. That contributed to a 25 percent lease-up on the first day of leasing for the new property. By the end of the year, Aspen Heights was 97 percent leased.

Battle of the Greeks Awarded Best Social Media Campaign for Student Housing

Aspen Heights Innovator AwardsThe contest earned Aspen Heights the award for “Best Social Media Campaign” at April’s 6th Annual InterFace Student Housing Conference.

The Greek Giveaway reigned in Facebook users through a contest that otherwise would not have been permitted on the social media giant. Two years ago, Facebook frowned on on-page voting, so, a contest platform, was enlisted to open the polls and get Aspen Heights to the Greek. Participants were encouraged to like Aspen Heights’ Facebook page during the voting process.

Aspen Heights Digital Marketing Manager Steve Miller said the three-day window on the contest is just right and enabled maximum participation that took the contest viral. People, Miller said, realized that they have to share the experience then and there.

“By doing that three-day voting period, it really gets you super concentrated three days of voting,” he said.

Contest Builds Aspen Heights’ Brand Awareness

Since the first contest, the company, which leased its first student housing community in 2007, has hosted others in the last year to launch properties in Charlotte, N.C., Fort Collins, Colo., Starkville, Miss., and Corpus Christi and San Marcos, Texas. Participation is still tracked but more emphasis is now being put on the return on investment.

Miller said the ROI was better than using traditional Facebook advertising, which the company had enlisted in the past. “For us, it was a good investment,” he said.

While the contests contribute to lead generation, the ultimate benefit is building Aspen Heights’ brand awareness, Miller said. Since entering the student housing market in 2007, the company is working to become a recognizable name on campus by thinking beyond traditional marketing efforts.

Creating an Off-Campus Greek Row Increases Lease-Up

Marketing to sororities and fraternities that already provide beds may seem a bit of a stretch, but Miller points out that the majority of brothers and sisters are short-timers when it comes to living in the house. Plus, there is only so much room under one roof.

Typically, members who have to seek quarters elsewhere want to be close by to the frat house, so that presents an opportunity for Aspen Heights to create sections of the neighborhood similar to an off-campus Greek Row. The result typically is that sorority and fraternity members migrate to the areas so they can live closer together.

Aspen Heights Digital Marketing Manager Steve Miller (R) Accepts “Best Social Media Campaign” Award

“For them, it feels like a second Greek Row,” Miller said. “We’re able to have a lot of success with leasing in groups.”

But Aspen Heights creates a sense of community by engaging students even beyond Greek Row. Miller said the goal is to build on the excitement and contribute to the enjoyment of the college experience.

In addition to using social media to build awareness, part of the rush onto a new campus revolves around distributing “a ton of swag” that includes t-shirts, glasses, hats and anything else to get the message out. “T-shirt Tuesdays” rewards students who are found on campus wearing an Aspen Heights t-shirt.

“Our goal is that there‘s no way you could not have heard about us over the course of the first three or four months we’re on campus,” Miller said. “Because we are coming in brand new, we have to make a big splash quickly, especially when we don’t have a neighborhood to show you yet. We want to be able to provide the type of experience that you will have on our property.”


(All images courtesy of Aspen Heights)



Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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