tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:/posts StudyStays Blog 2017-11-02T01:48:32Z StudyStays tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1202637 2017-11-02T01:46:48Z 2017-11-02T01:48:32Z Improving Search Filtering
Please note: the changes in this blog post will only be visible on sites that have been upgraded to the New Look. If your site hasn't been upgraded yet and you'd like to upgrade, please email support@studystays.com.

Some time was spent over the last week looking at how to improve the search experience for students.

The feedback received was that students often jump into a basic search from the front page and end up with many pages of results which they were then having to go through manually. It wasn't clear to students that they could use the "Rooms" and "Properties" links to access the full array of search options to narrow their search.

Based on this feedback, there have been a number of subtle improvements made to the way search works.
  • Narrowing the search: There is now a "Refine search..." link at the top of the search page which will take students back to the full search form. Moving between the search form and back to "Refine search" will keep all their current search criteria.
  • Widening the search: Search facets (e.g. "near Hobart", "for up to $600/week") are now highlighted with grey labels and they can be removed from the search screen without having to go back and redo the search, by clicking the little cross next to each facet.



I hope you find these improvements beneficial.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1201751 2017-10-29T23:33:48Z 2017-10-30T21:20:29Z Supporting Documents for Student Approval
To streamline the approval process for Future Students, it's now possible to allow "Supporting Documents" to be uploaded along with a student's registration.

With this feature enabled, Future students will be asked to upload their supporting document (or documents) on the registration page:

The label and help text for the upload ("Certificate of Enrolment" and the "Please upload a PDF  etc." in the screenshot above) can be configured through Admin > Settings > Student approvals.

For example, if you want to allow a Letter of Offer as well as a Certificate of Enrolment, you could change the name of the document upload to "Letter of Offer / Certificate of Offer".

There is the ability to add more than one file, which can be used if there are multiple pages of a scan or if you need more than one supporting document.

You will see the supporting documents in admin when you go to approve a future student account:

The file size limit for uploads is 10MB and the upload area will accept PDF, JPEG or PNG files.

How to Enable Supporting Documents

To enable this feature, go to Admin > Settings > Student approvals and tick the box to "Ask student to upload a supporting document".

If you decide to make use of this feature, you might like to review the "Student Approval Required" follow up page that is shown to after registration to students who require approval. You can edit this page from Admin > Content > Pages, or from the Admin > Settings > Student approvals page.

You should probably also review the "Pending approval" and "Remind students when they are in the approval queue" email templates (Admin > Settings > Email templates) to make sure they are suitable.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1174952 2017-07-19T03:48:48Z 2017-08-02T03:52:51Z New Look for StudyStays

I'm pleased to announce the new look for StudyStays, which is available from today.

It's a cleaner and more modern design. It has better mobile support, and provides more consistency between the mobile and desktop experience. And there are some new customisation options for banners and branding.

There's a video below with a 3-minute overview of some of the changes.

We've tried to take a fairly conservative approach in this redesign, so that not everything changes too much and all at once. This first update is fairly substantial already, so we've avoiding changing layout and functionality unless it was really necessary. We'll continue to make incremental changes to the new look going forward.

For now, you'll find the majority of admin functionality works just as before, but there are some new customisation settings to support the new look. Admin will be updated to match the new look in the not-too-distant future.

Updating to the new look is optional. So if you're busy with other things you don't need to worry about changes until you're ready to proceed. But if you are interested in using the new look, please get in touch and we'll probably be able to update your site overnight, making sure that any existing customisations and branding continue to work.

The following two video have some more detail about the customisation options that are available.

Customising the Home Page Search (4½ minutes)

Customising the Brand Header (4½ minutes)

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1147053 2017-04-17T15:08:22Z 2017-05-22T00:04:49Z Recording Feedback
You can record feedback on listings received from students. To access feedback, go to the Providers tab in Admin, then click Feedback.

Feedback is only visible to administrators. Providers won't be able to see feedback about themselves through the website.

There are three types of feedback: recommendations, comments and complaints. This lets you track the sentiment of the feedback, i.e. positive, neutral or negative sentiment.

New feedback is shown as "Open". If feedback requires further action from staff, you can leave it as "Open". Once you've dealt with the feedback you can mark it as "Closed", which is similar to archiving it.

Complaints against a provider will affect the approval score for new listings added by that provider.

The "New feedback" form in admin lets you lookup the provider, listing and student; and enter the feedback all in one page.

You can also allow students to provide feedback directly on listings. An administrator with "Super admin" permissions will need to enable this through Admin > Settings > Feedback, by ticking the box to "Allow students to provide feedback".

When students are allowed to add feedback, they will see a note at the bottom of listings with a link to enter the feedback.

You will be notified on the Admin Overview tab when students have provided new feedback.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1144294 2017-04-06T02:19:07Z 2017-04-06T02:45:18Z New feature: Messages between students and providers

The new Messages feature for StudyStays introduces a new way for students and providers to communicate.

Using the Messages add-on, the conversation between students and providers can be handled through your web site, rather than just showing contact info and leaving it up to your users from there.

This gives your users more privacy and security. It also gives administrators increased control and accountability measures to prevent and investigate scams and any other abuse that may occur.

As you will see below, messages work hand-in-hand with normal email. So users can reply directly from their email program, or from your website, or both.

Enhanced Scam Protection

Until now, registered students have been able to see providers' contact information on listings when they are signed in. Even with security measures like email verification and approvals, there have been times when scammers have passed these checkpoints and gone on to try to scam providers. When this happens, it is difficult to try to work out who the scammer is, since there is no requirement for them to use the same email address that they used to register for the site.

Most of these scam attempts appear to be detected by providers before any money changes hands. But it's still an annoyance for providers, and the only solution until now has been to try to educate them on the dangers of online scams.

With the Messages add-on, there is no way for scammers to email providers directly. All messages must be sent through your website, unless providers choose to reveal their email address explicitly to a student. This means when a scam attempt occurs, you can identify who it was, see the message they sent, and block them from using your website again.

With built-in features for reporting suspicious messages as you can see below, it's quicker and easier for your users to notify you of abuse.

Messages In Action

Here are some screenshots showing how Messages work.


Like What You See?

Messages are ready to use now, for an additional annual fee of $400. This fee helps cover the cost of the significant technical requirements of routing emails through your website reliably and securely.

If you're interested in using Messages, please email Support and we can set you up as soon as you like. For the first 5 universities that sign up for Messages, we'll waive the annual fee until your next invoice.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1110126 2016-11-23T01:07:41Z 2016-11-23T01:07:48Z Automating Homestays - Email

The Homestays Add-On offers a few handy features to help automate email communication.

There are a number of steps that your guests and hosts need to complete. While the exact steps will be different for each Homestay program, some common steps are gaining admin approval, submitting payment, requesting a homestay, confirming a placement, and maybe going through an orientation or having an inspection.

Homestays can help your users get through each step of the process by sending emails whenever there's new information for the user, or some sort of action is required of them.

Some of these emails are sent automatically, such as reminders for upcoming placements. Others are sent as a result of admin actions you perform. In either case, you can customise your email templates to make sure your users get the information they need, when they need it.

There are just under 40 different email templates available to customise, including a "Signature" template which is inserted at the bottom of every email.

You can edit each template, using rich text formatting (e.g. bold text and links). Some emails have a button to help the user know what to do next.

This particular template goes out when a guest's homestay application is approved. Let's see how that works by approving an application. Here's one that requires approval.

Clicking the "approve" button brings up a window showing the email that will be sent, based on the template. You can make further changes here if you like, and then click "Approve this application" to complete this step of the process.

Now that the guest is approved, if you look on the right-hand side of the screen you can see that the guest has "1 email sent." Each email that is sent will be tracked on your system so that you can see a history of correspondence.

Emails are listed in reverse chronological order by subject. You can click any email subject to see exactly what was sent.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1109666 2016-11-21T05:50:17Z 2017-03-14T03:27:18Z Homestays Admin Sneak Peek

The Homestays admin functions sit under a "Homestays" tab, alongside your other Off Campus admin tabs.

Clicking into the Homestays tab gives you an e row of tabs that you can use to access the various functions required to manage Homestays.


The Placements tab shows you placements that have been assigned by administrators or chosen by guests.

The right-hand side of the placements screen allows you to filter placements by type and date. In this screen shot, I'm viewing all the confirmed placements in the last week:


The Guests tab, shows you some overview information about guests including some stats about things that might need your attention. As with placements, you can filter on the right hand side. There's also a search box to quickly look up the guest you're interested in. I'll use it to look up a guest named "Mariano":

Here's Mariano's record. All the data shown is just for demonstration purposes, including the cartoon avatar. On your actual Homestays website, guests and hosts can upload a profile photo which is handy for putting a face to a name.


The Homes tab, as you might expect, shows information about host families and their homes. Notice you can filter by campus here, as well as by the status of the home. Also shown is the Export button which you'll recognise from your existing StudyStays admin. As with Off Campus, you can export your Homestays data to a spreadsheet if you need to do extra calculations or work with the data directly.

Here's an example of a host record. Up the top you can see there is the same area for notes that you're used to. You can also tag hosts to keep them organised. Tags come in handy for group auto-assignment—but more on that in a later post.

That's all for today! In tomorrow's post I'll share some ways you can save time by automating common Homestays tasks.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1108724 2016-11-16T23:19:18Z 2016-11-18T00:41:14Z Introducing Homestays

Today I’m very happy to announce the new Homestays add-on for StudyStays.

The Homestays add-on gives you a website for managing Homestay accommodation for international students. It fits in nicely alongside your existing Off Campus Accommodation website, making use of the admin interface that you’re already familiar with.

Some key features are:

  • Guests (students) can apply for a homestay matching their preferences and requirements
  • Hosts can self-manage their homestay, including details about living arrangements, features, preferences and availability
  • Guests are matched with the best homestays for them using a scoring system.
  • Guests can either request a homestay themselves, or have one assigned by an administrator
  • Agents can manage homestays on behalf of their students
  • Group bookings help you easily manage study or tour groups.
  • Auto Assignment automatically assigns the best matches for groups
  • Automatic email notifications to help streamline the application and placement process
  • Comprehensive admin tools for managing guests, hosts, homestay placements, applications, agents and groups.
  • Customisable forms (e.g. for Guest and Host registration) and scoring rules for matching guests with homestays
  • Customisable to suit your procedures for recording host orientation, inspections and payments.
  • Off Campus students and providers can use the same login for the Homestay website

The Homestays add-on has had almost two years of development and testing in collaboration with QUT and Griffith University. Thanks to their innovation and patience, we’ve gotten to the point where we have a solid product for other universities to use “out of the box”.

The Homestays add-on is available now for everyone using StudyStays. For anyone signing up in 2017, we have a special rate of $9000 for the first year (ex GST). There is also a “Light” version available with some limitations for a lower rate.

I’ll be writing in more detail about Homestays over the coming weeks. If you’d like to be notified about new posts, you can subscribe to this blog by email below. I look forward to telling you about all the exciting features!

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1041152 2016-04-26T12:04:49Z 2016-04-26T12:04:50Z Where Does Email Go?
Recent updates give you more insight into automatic emails. Automatic emails are one-off emails — the emails that get sent when a user does something (like registering), or needs a reminder (such as when a listing is about to expire).

Up until now, you've been able to configure the templates for these emails through admin, and see the last known status for an email address.

With the new changes you can see the text of each message that was sent, and whether it was delivered, or bounced, or was treated as spam.

Verification Is Now Required For Your Sending Email Address
With these changes, it's now a good idea to verify your sending email address (the Admin > Settings > Email > "Send From" setting). Verification only has to be performed once, and it's simply a matter of checking your "Send From" email address and then clicking "Save". This will bring you to a page to verify your email, which involves receiving an email from Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) and clicking the link it contains.

Once you've verified, we can send email with this address as the sender. Until you verify, we will send from "noreply@studystays.com", with your email as the Reply To address.

So verifying your email address gives recipients a better idea of where each email is coming from and why they're getting it.

Viewing Sent Emails for Students and Providers
You can see how many emails have been sent to a particular student or provider from their sidebar.

In the example above, clicking the "3 emails" link will show you which emails were sent to this user and when, along with information about whether each email was delivered or not.

New Outgoing Email Report
You can find this report under Admin > Reports > Administration. It shows a list of emails that have been sent, with the most recent emails first.

Send Mailouts From Your University Address
Mailouts will now be sent from your university address, rather than mailout@studystays.com. You'll need to verify your sending email first, as described above. This gives your mailouts some added credibility, because people can trust that they're coming from you.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1028789 2016-04-07T23:37:50Z 2016-04-10T21:40:53Z Speedbump Terms and Conditions
There is a new setting that lets your choose how to present your terms and conditions to students and providers when they register. We're calling the new option "Speedbump Terms and Conditions" because it slows people down a bit to focus their attention on the terms.

Option 1: The Tick Box
This is the default option if you don't change anything. It shows a tick box with a link to read the full terms and conditions.

This option makes it quick and easy to register, while still ensuring that students and providers agree to the terms. It's fairly common practise to do it this way, but it does mean you'll get people who are legally bound by the terms but haven't actually read them. If your terms and conditions are an impenetrable wall of legalese, then it might be best to stick with this option. You can then send plain-English information in the welcome email that gets sent after registration.

Option 2: The Speedbump
This is the new option. Instead of the tickbox, terms and conditions are displayed full-page after people click the 'Register' button:

This should work well if you have conditions that are fairly easy to read. It's still fairly unlikely that people will read much of this text, but you can call their attention to a few key sentences or words by selectively bolding them.

Choosing an Option
You can change this option by selecting 'Speedbump-style terms and conditions' under Admin > Settings > Website. If you don't choose the new option, you'll stay with the default tick box terms and conditions.

Editing Terms and Conditions
Whichever option you choose, the way you change your terms and conditions is the same: just edit the relevant page under Admin > Content > Pages.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1025269 2016-04-05T03:54:42Z 2016-04-05T04:07:09Z New StudyStays Logo and Website
I just launched a refresh of the studystays.com.au promotional website, with a new look and a new logo.
The design is by my friend Deena. Deena worked part-time at StudyStays last year on marketing, promotional material, and this website. On a side note, Deena just recently won the People's Choice Award for Most Promising Female Songwriter in the Queensland Music Awards for her single Turpentine. She also puts together a pretty tight website, if you ask me!
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1021295 2016-03-29T01:53:46Z 2016-03-29T23:06:13Z Front page content customisation
There are 4 parts of the front page content that you can customise:
  1. Student and provider titles
  2. Student and provider "blurbs"
  3. Front page content
  4. The side bar
To customise the first three, go to Admin > Content > Front page.

1. Student and provider titles

These titles help direct the two main audiences in the right direction. Feel free to use different terminology here if you like. Keep in mind that the terms "Student" and "Provider" will continue to be used throughout the website for these user types, no matter what titles you use here.

TIP: Another effective way to direct the two main audience groups might be to use titles that highlight the actions that each group are likely to want to do. Examples: "Find a place to live", "Advertise your property".

2. Student and provider "blurbs"

These "blurbs" are an opportunity to provide audience-specific information, in addition to the default actions that are shown above the blurb.

TIP: It's possible to have too much "blurb", leading to a type of clutter and confusion known as "blah". Too much text or lots of bold text can make a blurb look impenetrable to users who are trying to get something done as quickly as possible—and so they end up skipping it. So, keep your blurbs short and snappy if you can. Try linking to a separate content page if you have have more to say. And if you have things to say to both students AND providers you can use the next option, which is....

3. Front page content

This is where you can be a bit more expansive about things like the purpose of the website, a description of the service you offer, general information, and helpful links.

TIP: When you're trying to point out important information, it's easy to go overboard and present A WALL OF BOLD TEXT (***IMPORTANT, MUST READ!!!). This can be counter-productive: if everything is important, then nothing is important. If you think about the way you use other websites, you'll probably conclude that people will usually only skim this text. So try breaking your content up in to sections with headings and very selectively bold important key words. If you have a lot to say on a topic, create a new content page with all the details and just link to it from the front page.

4. Side bar

This is a bonus option: the side bar is shown on every public page, not just the front page. Unlike the other options above which are under Admin > Content > Front page, you edit the sidebar from Admin > Content > Side bar.

TIP: Because space is tight in the side bar, links and occasional brief sentences will work best. Again, try to limit what you put here to just the most important things, as too much will mean a side bar that trails off the page: it's almost guaranteed that no one will read to the bottom in that case.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/1017098 2016-03-21T01:48:10Z 2016-03-21T21:29:54Z Property Address Improvements
These improvements should make it easier for advertisers to list the correct address for their property.

There are two parts to the change.

Address autocompletion when adding a new listing
There's a new page for adding listings, with a few quick questions to help advertisers get started quickly. The "Address" text box now pops up a list of matching addresses, which saves the advertiser from having to enter street address, suburb, state and postcode separately.

As well as making it easier for new advertisers to get started, this should lead to more accurate addresses with less typos.

After filling out the new listing details, advertisers are sent to the normal listing form with the relevant fields already set up for them.

Drag to change map location
You might have encountered situations where the map marker ends up in the wrong suburb, state or even country. Advertisers can now adjust the location of the map marker if the automatic lookup places it incorrectly.
You can also use this drag feature from admin to correct stray map markers.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/920674 2015-10-22T04:25:30Z 2015-10-25T22:09:55Z Follow-up emails for listings in the approval queue
You might find this update useful for those times when your listing approval queue starts getting long.

You now have the option to automatically email providers after their listing has been in the queue for a while. The setting to enable this is under Admin > Settings > Email Templates > "Send an email while listings are in the approval queue". As well as changing the email template, you can also set how many hours you want to wait before sending the email.

The default email apologises for the delay and explains that you'll try to approve the listing as soon as possible. This might be useful at busy times of the year, when a bit of proactive reassurance could reduce enquiries and complaints from providers.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/920350 2015-10-21T09:38:33Z 2015-10-21T23:11:45Z Making sure units have unit numbers
This is just a minor improvement, but now when providers list units, apartments or flats, the listing form will now check to make sure they entered the unit/flat/apartment number.

This will handle a variety of unit address formats, things like:

Flat 2 14 Smith St
2/14 Smith St
F 2 14 Smith St
Unit 2 14 Smith St
2/14 Smith St
U 2 14 Smith St
APT 2 14 Smith St

Only listings with "unit", "flat", or "apartment" in the property type will be checked in this way. One exception is granny flats, which won't require a unit number.

Hopefully this improves the quality of addresses, without making you do any extra administrative work.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/784363 2014-12-17T00:42:44Z 2014-12-17T00:42:45Z Email auto-response for listings over the holiday period
If you're taking a break from approving listings over the holidays, we've added a new way give yourselves a bit of breathing room.

You can now configure an email to be sent out after providers add a listing. In this email you might like to let people know that you might take longer than usual to process their listing.

As with other email templates, you can find this new one Admin > Settings > Email templates. Tick the box to "Send an email to providers after they submit a listing" and then you can customise the "Listing submitted" email that will be sent.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/751431 2014-10-06T07:38:03Z 2014-10-06T22:45:11Z Posting bulletins to students and providers
Bulletins are a new way to display important messages to students or providers after they've signed in.

As a StudyStays administrator, you can post Bulletins from Admin > Content > Bulletins. You can specify a target audience to display to (students or providers) and a title and message for the Bulletin.

How Bulletins work
Bulletins are only shown once to each person.

When you post a bulletin, you choose whether it will be seen by students or providers. After people sign in, they will see any Bulletins that have been posted for them since they last signed in. People can quickly continue on with what they were trying to do by clicking a "continue" button, or by clicking on any other links on the page.

Bulletins are designed for updating people with new information, so one detail to keep in mind is that Bulletins will only be shown to people who have already registered when you post the Bulletin.

Formatting your message
The message box for Bulletins only accepts plain text, unlike content pages where you can add links, bold text and other formatting using toolbar buttons. You can however do some formatting using a popular syntax known as Markdown. For example, in the image above I have made some text bold by adding double-asterisks (**) on either side.

Here are some examples of Markdown.

**This is bold** becomes: This is bold
*This will be italic* becomes: This will be italic
Here is a [link](http://studystays.com) becomes: Here is a link.

For more examples, please see the Markdown Syntax Examples.

When to use Bulletins
As mentioned above, Bulletins are intended to update people with important changes and information. Things like new requirements for landlords are perfect for bulletins.

In contrast to Mailouts, Bulletins are a good way to update people just as they're about to use your website. If you have information that you want people to see now, you might consider doing a Mailout instead.

Information overload
It's important to remember that Bulletins are interrupting people as they're about to perform a task like searching for a flat or listing their property. For this reason, it's a good idea to use them sparingly, and when you do, to keep them short and to the point.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/734641 2014-09-01T01:01:14Z 2014-09-01T01:01:52Z Automatic Capitalisation
StudyStays now automatically adjusts letter case where it looks like people have entered all upper- or lower-case text, or haven't capitalised the first words in their sentences for listing details.

We hope this will give listings’ text more consistency, without admins needing to make as many manual adjustments.

Here's an example of some listing text and how it will be automatically adjusted:

Address: 30 almondbury rd, MT LAWLEY 6050

gardens and parks nearby. polished floors throughout, large and medium sized room available.fully furnished kitchen and laundry. shared bills and bond required. 

Address:  30 Almondbury Rd, Mt Lawley 6050

Gardens and parks nearby. Polished floors throughout, large and medium sized room available. Fully furnished kitchen and laundry. Shared bills and bond required.


StudyStays will use Title Case (where the first letter of every word is capitalised) for things like names and addresses, and Sentence Case (where the first letter of the first word in every sentence is capitalised) for things like listing details.

This will mainly affect form entries submitted by non-Administrators, that is: student and provider registrations, and listings. If automatic capitalisation is applied, it will be done after a form is submitted.

This capitalisation will only be applied to new or edited listings—existing listings will remain as they are.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/733132 2014-08-28T04:20:44Z 2014-08-28T04:20:44Z International student status
StudyStays has just started asking students whether they're international students when they register. 

Although it's been a goal to keep the student registration form as short and sweet as possible to encourage student registrations, a number of universities have said that international student status would be very useful for reporting purposes.

So there's now one extra field on the student registration page:

On the admin side, international status will be included when you export student data.

And there's a new report on students’ international status. It won't be too helpful right away, but hopefully it will become more useful as you collect more registrations!

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/709283 2014-07-01T00:45:52Z 2014-07-01T00:55:23Z New lease options and better relisting
Min-max lease
Up until now, accommodation providers have only been able to enter a single value for the lease duration. Now, there's a new option to advertise a min-max lease duration as well

This allows providers to show the full range of leases they offer, and to have their listings show up when students search for anything within that range.

The short-term accommodation option is also shown as a lease option rather than a separate tickbox.

Better relisting
Now when providers relist an expired listing, they get access to the full listing form from the start, rather than a limited sub-set of options.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/684294 2014-04-30T04:15:37Z 2014-04-30T04:15:38Z Hi New Zealand!

I'm pleased to announce that StudyStays now supports sign-ups from New Zealand universities.

This means that NZ unis can use a studystays.co.nz sub-domain for their trial website, map searches will look for NZ addresses, and other smaller things like asking for NZBNs rather than ABNs.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/683060 2014-04-28T03:31:53Z 2014-04-28T03:31:53Z Featured listings
You can now feature listings on the front page of your StudyStays site by awarding the special 'featured' badge to listings. This allows you to promote listings that deserve special attention.

To use Featured Listings you might need to check that you have Badges enabled first. You can find this setting through Admin > Settings > Listings.

To feature a listing, you award the 'featured' badge when you're viewing a listing in admin. If you want to feature all listings from a certain provider, you can award the 'featured' badge to the provider instead of awarding it to individual listings.

Once you've awarded the featured badge to at least one listing, StudyStays will show up to 2 random featured listings on the front page of your site. Students can click "More featured listings..." to see all the featured listings.

Featured listings will also rank higher in search results, the same way awarding any other badge makes the listing rise to the top of search results.

So featured listings should get a lot more attention from students compared to regular listings. Maybe it's worth considering charging providers for this extra value? Just something to think about...
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/677562 2014-04-15T06:22:15Z 2014-04-15T06:22:16Z Updates to future student expiry
This update only applies to universities that choose to expire future student accounts after a certain time period. If you're not sure whether you expire student accounts or not, you can find the setting under Admin > Settings > Student approvals.

With this update, StudyStays now retains more data about students after their account expires. Students with expired accounts still won't be able to sign in, but you can now search for and view expired accounts through admin and re-activate them if you need to.

Also, reports on student registrations will now be more accurate as the expired accounts can be counted.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/674894 2014-04-08T23:39:52Z 2014-04-08T23:39:52Z In case you missed these small changes...

Here's a list of small improvements and additions over the last few months.

Map region indicator for listings with a hidden address

Instead of showing a marker icon on the street, these are now shown with a pink circle indicating the general area of the listing.

Email tracking for students
You can now track emails to students as well as accommodation providers.

Provider search and filtering
In admin, you can now search for providers by their phone number, of by the address of their listings. In addition, you can filter and export providers by their type (Private provider, Real estate agent or Student).

Photo uploads
With help from a couple of very kind and patient university people, I've fixed an error where providers would see a message that .JPG files weren't allowed. This was a difficult error to track down because it only appeared when the web server restarted while someone was uploading a photo—which happened often enough to cause problems, but rarely enough to make it difficult to find. So if you have noticed this error in the past, I'm very pleased to let you know that this it's fixed now.

Also, in the past you might have noticed more photos being uploaded that seemed to be rotated on their side. There should be less of this now—StudyStays can now understand orientation information used by many newer cameras and will automatically rotate these photos when they're uploaded.

Providers can re-try rejected listings
Now that it's less severe to reject a listing—the provider goes on a watch list instead of being blacklisted—it's now easier for providers to make changes to a rejected listing and re-submit it. After the provider receives instructions on what they need to change to meet requirements, they will see a "try again" link next to the rejected listing on their dashboard.

Now when you search listings by categories where the provider can choose more than one option, the search will match all your selections rather than any of them. It's a subtle change, but you should find searches just work more like you'd expect now.

Set badges and tags while reviewing changes
For all universities using the new-ish Badges feature, you can now set badges and tags while you're reviewing changes to a listing.

tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/642440 2014-01-16T03:28:53Z 2014-01-16T08:16:14Z The Watch List, and Blocking Users
Up until now there's been the concept of a blacklist, where providers were automatically flagged once they have one of their listings rejected. I think it's fair to say that the automatic and apparently-harsh nature of the blacklist has caused some concern and confusion, and it's time for a redesign.

So I've replaced the blacklist with a Watch List. It's similar to the old blacklist, but it takes into account that people sometimes make mistakes when they list and it just keeps a closer eye on them until they show that they understand the listing requirements. StudyStays will watch providers on this list in case they attempt to list under a different account, and alert administrators at the approval stage if that happens.

So now when you see a listing that doesn't meet your website's requirements, you can safely reject it and tell the provider what they need to do differently next time.

The main change with the Watch List is that rejecting a listing no longer puts a provider straight into a blacklist with a permanent black mark next to their name. Instead, the Watch List takes into account each provider's full history of approvals and only watches providers who have had less than 2 approvals for every rejection.

So now a provider can get off the Watch List with "good behaviour"—by getting new listings approved. Once a provider has at least 2 listings approved for every previous rejection, we can assume they understand the basic requirements and we don't need to keep such a close eye on them.

I chose this 2:1 ratio so that once you get on the watch list you have to try a bit harder to get off it. Two wrongs don't make a right—but one wrong and two rights do!

As with the old blacklist, providers on the Watch List will still be highlighted in the automatic approval checks. The "pirate flag"   next to blacklisted providers is gone though. Instead, you'll see this warning on some provider's records:

If you're thinking the Watch List is too lenient for cases of consistently bad behaviour, there's also Blocking.

Blocking a provider (or student) means they will no longer be able to sign in to your website with this account. You can manually block someone by clicking the "Block access" link on the right hand side when you're viewing their details.
Like with the Watch List, StudyStays will also try to flag blocked providers if they attempt to list under a different account.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/629882 2013-12-13T04:13:33Z 2013-12-13T04:13:34Z Un-Impersonating Providers
As you probably know, impersonating a provider lets you see your StudyStays website they way the provider sees it.

Previously you had to sign out and in again to get back to admin after impersonating someone. I've just added a small button that makes it much easier to stop impersonating and switch back to admin.

Also, I've removed the flashing animation which was probably a bit more distracting than it should have been.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/628156 2013-12-08T23:27:29Z 2014-04-23T03:01:33Z Introducing Mailouts
The new Mailouts feature in StudyStays lets you send mass emails to students and providers.

Up until now I've recommended Mailchimp for this sort of thing, but some larger universities have surpassed the free usage limits for Mailchimp now.

Mailouts are a free addition for universities on the Big pricing plan. Universities on the lower plans can continue to use the free Mailchimp integration, or add Mailouts for an extra fee (check out the pricing page).

Some of the features of Mailouts:
  • Send mass emails to students, providers, or both groups
  • Fast and reliable delivery
  • All available from StudyStays admin—no separate login
  • Easy unsubscribe, managed automatically by StudyStays
  • View performance reports including things like opens, bounces, unsubscribes and complaints

For more information, please see the Mailouts help page on our website.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/623442 2013-11-26T01:29:23Z 2013-11-26T01:29:25Z New: edit listings when reviewing changes
Going by the number of requests, I think you might find this a useful enhancement to the change-review feature—just in time for the next student intake.

Up until now, when a landlord submitted changes to their listing you could choose to accept or decline them. Now there's a third option to edit: this will let you make adjustments on top of what the landlord has requested.

Simple, right? There's actually a lot going on beneath that "edit" button. It's possible that the landlord could go in and make further changes while you're editing—StudyStays is smart enough to only accept the changes that you as an admin have seen, while queuing up any further changes in the background.

Hope you like it!
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/598821 2013-09-03T07:45:41Z 2013-10-08T17:29:21Z Refresh
We've made some changes to the layout of searches and listings in a recent update.

Searches now show the primary listing photo if there is one. If providers have uploaded several photos, they can choose the primary one by dragging it to the top of the list of photos when they're editing the listing.

Listings with photos have always enjoyed a boost in search rankings, but now it should be a bit more obvious that this is happening. We hope this encourages more providers to add photos.

We've also updated the listing page to emphasise photos.

People viewing the listing can switch between photos, the map and a new Street View tab. Key information is visible at the top-right column, and details are now "above the fold" (closer to the top of the page) with listing categories displayed alongside in a table.
tag:blog.studystays.com,2013:Post/74514 2013-01-24T08:05:17Z 2013-10-08T15:37:34Z New report: Listings per month This new report lets you check how many advertisements have been listed each month since your site was launched.

You can find the new report under Admin > Reports > Listings per month.