Hoteliers Finding Opportunities in Student Housing

Ask any group of people about their college dorm experiences, and you’ll probably get similar answers—living on campus was loads fun, but the dorms themselves were small, outdated, and desperately in need of some TLC. However, a new trend in university housing is giving a lot of students an upgrade. Housing shortages are forcing schools to find alternatives to accommodate the ever-growing number of students (more than 20.2 million in 2015, per the National Center for Education Statistics), including putting them up in hotels for a semester at a time.

This is a win-win situation for hoteliers and higher education, giving schools a way to fill in housing gaps, while providing hotels with a steady stream of business. Denihan Hospitality Group, a New York City-based owner/operator of luxury and boutique properties, has partnered with New York University (NYU) to provide student housing every fall for the last six years, offering blocks at three of its Affinia Hotel Collection properties—Manhattan NYC, Shelburne NYC, and Dumont NYC—to NYU students.

According to Kelli Martin, Denihan’s regional director of sales, this arrangement has been extremely positive for the hotels, and not just because it boosts occupancy. “It impacts our operations significantly, especially housekeeping, which only has to visit students twice per week,” she describes. “Also, the front desk isn’t as busy, because these students check in when they arrive
in September and don’t need to check out until December.”

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When booking blocks of NYU students, Denihan uses its standard group contract and communicates extensively with the university to head off any problems before they even come up. “We work with NYU resident advisors to clarify what the needs of the students are and how we can ensure that they are met,” Martin explains. “This high level of communication ensures that everyone has a smooth transition—especially for kids out on their own away from home for the first time—and leads to great feedback from our student guests and their families.”