The Student Hotel
Scaling-up to deliver the Complete Connected Community
Faster page downloads
Availability, ensuring maximum income
Transactional website built with Episerver DXP and React
The Student Hotel (TSH) already had a strong personality, a distinctive tone of voice and a hybrid co-living and working proposition that was disrupting the hospitality industry. But they needed a partner that could translate and deliver a meaningful experience across their entire digital ecosystem.
Pioneering a next generation hybrid model in hospitality, TSH is an urban regenerator. They partner with cities to create new communities based around a blend of co-living, student and hotel accommodation, with co-working, private office and meeting spaces; enriched with lifestyle options across wellness, entertainment, event, bar and restaurant spaces.
They needed to redefine their digital experience and overhaul their infrastructure to enterprise-standard solutions, in response to rapid expansion and an increasingly complex product mix. Crucially, the new infrastructure had to be scalable, robust and enable innovative digital experiences that blend seamlessly with physical environments. In turn, driving sustained competitive advantage, resilience and growth.
Community is at the centre of everything TSH does – from how they build properties to how people experience them. From the students that live there to weekend travellers, co-workers, coffee-grabbers, and everyone in between, they are all part of the Complete Connected Community. The experiences driven by the new digital ecosystem needed to reflect this, connecting nearly a million current and former co-living and co-working guests. The aim was to use the best of digital to remove boundaries and create a feeling of community between all those who consider themselves a ‘student at heart’.
Episerver partner, Rufus Leonard employed their Experience Playbook process to create an inspiring blueprint defining The Student Hotel’s industry-leading digital experience. The Experience Playbook captures a customer-centric yet brand-led and technology-enabled vision. It’s a tool that translates business strategy into meaningfully differentiated customer experiences. As well as providing an inspiring ‘north star’, the Experience Playbook continues to add value as a tool for TSH stakeholders to use with investors and partners as the business grows.
Applying their own experience design expertise to collaborative research and ideation, Rufus Leonard established a backlog of ideas and concepts to explore and rationalise. Their approach to this was a balance between requirement-driven outputs (e.g. for transactional journeys such as room booking) and conceptual design thinking (e.g. app-based functionality for innovative experiences, such as automated check-in and digital room keys). They worked with TSH to score and prioritise the backlog of experience concepts into a delivery roadmap that would deliver maximum value against the overarching objectives.
Embarking on an intensive launch program
The team embarked on an intensive launch program to deliver a complete digital experience designed for the modern digital native.
The result is an experience with dynamic contextual navigation, built on mobile-first principles, that supports accessibility in all its forms, and delivers a differentiated brand experience – performing impeccably and reliably at all times. Underpinning the experience is an innovative hybrid hospitality UX that is user-centric and goal-orientated, rather than one-size-fits-all. The site uses a digital design language that can adapt to any device, enabling a consistent look-and-feel no matter the brand touchpoint.
One of the key principles of our architecture was to enable a seamless experience across devices. The team sort about creating an overarching design language system that ensured common and consistent design and interaction patterns across channels and devices, powered by Episerver Content Cloud. It all started by exploring design concepts for mobile app, web, wearables and in-room AV, and refined these into a design language system and core UI library, giving direction on colour, type, padding & shading, iconography, imagery and interactive UI elements. This enabled a consistent look-and-feel no matter what the brand touchpoint.
Supporting TSH’s hyper-growth while inspiring their diverse and future-focused international community
The technical ecosystem architecture is anchored on a headless, omni-channel, multi-language platform. It is built on future-focused foundations, uniquely building in Episerver DXP and React. With additional functionality supported by Rufus’ Omnichannel Experience.API.
As well as its well-known and easy to use content editing capabilities, Episerver Customer-Centric Digital Experience Platform was selected for its mature content API that includes A/B testing and personalisation, as well as reliable and available hosting. All of which will help power the headless omnichannel content ambition globally
The headless single page application (SPA), enabled by React, allows TSH to serve the content stored in the Episerver CMS to any number of front-end channels: website, apps, voice interfaces, hotel lobby screens, in-room TVs – you name it. This futureproofed solution can integrate easily with new technology and innovations. Built on Microsoft Azure, the website can also automatically scale with ease as it handles higher numbers of visitors – crucial as TSH expand across more territories.
Another benefit of the headless SPA is the ability to take complete control over the perceived and actual load times, allowing for a seamless, rich and high-resolution content experience. It allows TSH to deliver the quickest and most efficient way to render its website to the user while also controlling techniques such as lazy loading for ‘below the fold’ content. Focusing on loading only the content required by a user’s initial visit, the TSH site is selective and personalises based on what the website visitor needs. By doing this, the first and subsequent loads are sped up while also making huge savings in overall bandwidth. For the customer, this results in a fast and engaging digital experience.
The result of our fine-tuning and next generation techniques is a lightning fast and efficient website, SEO optimised, and able to serve content to the TSH community no matter their device. The new enterprise website has become the first milestone in The Student Hotel’s digital experience ecosystem. With, alongside it, a strategy to enable the success of platforms to come such as the soon-to-follow app, built on React Native, which will integrate comprehensively with TSH’s on-property touchpoints.
Rufus Leonard had the proven credentials to engineer our core digital platforms to deliver our desired distinctive experience. This milestone is the first step in our digital transformation from offering a collection of individual products, to a seamless lifelong customer experience integrating a complex mix of hospitality products, lifestyle services and learning experiences. The solution delivers more than an enhanced brand experience, including significant operational efficiency, scalability and – critical in these times – speed to market
Mark LiversidgeChief Digital & Experience Officer The Student Hotel