We all know how important it is to be able to offer a fast and reliable internet connection in a student housing property. We often joke about how we could probably rent our apartments without a bed inside, but when it comes to the Wi-Fi there is no messing around for our demanding student tenants. This is why it is essential to partner with the right provider, and at Staytoo we know we can rely on the best in our sector. With ASK4 it is not only about having a reliable connectivity, we have got an end to end service: so we know that our students will be satisfied with the service.
We recently had a catch-up with Billy Kontoulis from ASK4 and he’s been talking to us about their operations around Europe, how they can deliver great service across different countries and some useful tips for new operators or for those thinking about upgrading their connectivity provider…
Billy, for those who don’t know you yet, what is your role at ASK4?
My role at ASK4 is International Strategic Account Manager. That means I work with our clients outside the UK. It also means I spend a lot of time on planes, heading off to meet with our current clients in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Poland, plus making new contacts in those areas and in new countries in which we are planning to operate in the near future. Some weeks I feel as though I’ve spent more time in the air than on the ground!
Why is ASK4 the best connectivity partner in the student housing sector?
I think this comes down to two things. First is our technical expertise. Our development, delivery and support teams are award-winning, and for very good reason. They keep us at the cutting edge in a highly competitive sector where we are delivering a service to the most demanding of users – students! The second is the relationships we build with our clients. We are genuinely interested in mutually beneficial long term partnerships and that is reflected in the level of customer service we deliver and the commercial models we are able to achieve.
Tell us a bit more about your operations in Europe and how you can help accommodation operators who have buildings in multiple countries.
We are currently operational in six European countries (with several more in planning), delivering services to around 160,000 students at more than 400 different locations. Having partnered with accommodation operators for the last 18 years and with the operational capacity to deliver our services in multiple countries, we are able to provide a consistently high quality service across an operator’s entire portfolio regardless of location.
How do you deliver the same outstanding service in different countries?
It is not easy! But we start with the simple premise that it makes no difference to us whether the accommodation site is in Manchester, Munich or Madrid. Our approach is the same – to deliver the best possible service to our clients and to the end users, from planning and installation, to support and account management. This of course requires a lot of work, as we ensure that we are locally established and compliant with telecoms regulations in each country, that we build an international supplier base of fibre network operators, that we have native language staff to deliver and support the services… the list goes on! But it is the only way to deliver a consistently high standard of service across different regions without compromising on quality.
Apart from having a reliable internet connection, what are the other benefits to students connected to the ASK4 network?
ASK4 connected students gain all the benefits of being served by a specialist Internet service provider. Our network is optimised for students’ unique requirements, including content caches from leading content providers (e.g. Facebook, Netflix) to ensure they can access the content that matters most to them as quickly and reliably as possible. We also have a 24/7/365 customer support helpdesk with a multi-lingual support team ready to help with any issues or service queries via email, phone, social media and live chat. With ASK4, students can be confident that they are receiving the best possible service via the most technically innovative, student-focussed provider.
What are your top tips for operators looking for a reliable connectivity partner? What should they be looking for?
If I were to list the top 3 things operators should look for it would be: 1) a specialist provider who has a thorough understanding of the student accommodation sector and its unique requirements; 2) a provider who can deliver a complete end-to-end service, from planning and install through to daily network monitoring and user support; 3) a provider with a connectivity solution that enables students to connect their smart devices together safely and securely over a building-wide shared network.
What are the main things to consider if any operators out there are thinking about migrating from their current system to a fully managed service from ASK4?
It depends very much on what their current arrangements are, but in most cases we will have seen it before and will be able to help. We have a wealth of experience in migrating services over to our platform and we will be able to advise on the best course of action to suit each case and minimise disruption to the end users. The main thing is for the operators to get in touch with us to discuss their requirements, so we can demonstrate our expertise and explain how a fully managed service from ASK4 can be a huge benefit to both the accommodation provider and the residents.
Is there any other news from ASK4?
We have recently released a new piece of research in our Connected Living series that looks at how technology is being used to combat loneliness amongst students. This is an increasing problem and we were keen to understand the role technology is playing. You can find the full report at www.ask4.com/connectedliving. Definitely worth a read for anyone involved in delivering student accommodation.
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