Keynote speaker Lowell Catlett, regent’s professor, dean and chief administrative officer at New Mexico State University by day and futurist by night, entertained attendees with his academic view on the nation’s economic underpinnings and outlook.
While he was wont to make any predictions, given economists’ poor forecasting accuracy-“you can flip a coin and still beat us by three percentage points,” he said-he highlighted the role today’s student housing providers have in shaping the future, even beyond housing. “The seeds of the next game-changing idea or technology are planted in this generation of students that the student housing industry serves; student housing providers should be trying to figure out how to ensure their communities can be better incubators of the next big thing by bringing together people and ideas in new, creative ways,” he said.
“We don’t know the future, but the ones that think about it are going to be the ones who are going to adapt most easily,” he said.
The Collier Companies CEO Andrew Hogshead hit a similar note in his keynote speech on the young adult market, pointing out that student housing matters disproportionately by virtue of the fact that it serves the Millennial generation, an economic force, far into the future.
“Student housing is a first chance to form brand loyalty by becoming part of their community and their herd,” he said. “We are a laboratory for predicting and analyzing Millennial behavior.”
With the future of student housing clearly shining brightly, conference attendees also got down to brass tacks on a number of strategic and operational issues that affect how well positioned their companies will be in that future, from attracting capital to maintaining rent growth.