Sodexo Launches Concierge Service 'Circles' in Response to Latest Student Survey Results

Youth Thinking | 08 Oct 2020


Our client at Sodexo came to us for insight into how student satisfaction has been affected by the pandemic. And from this thinking, the global facilities management company have launched their new concierge service at two university campuses, as part of their Residential Living Programme.

The research that we conducted for Sodexo underlined that students are struggling to adjust to life during Covid-19 (highlights from the research have been included below). 

Sodexo set out to alleviate some of the specific concerns highlighted within our report, and have launched a new concierge service called 'Circles', which offers assistance with anything from arranging travel bookings to providing downtime suggestions. The programme has been introduced at two Sodexo-managed university accommodation facilities at Northumbria University and Bath Court at Birmingham University.

The service can be accessed through a dedicated portal or over the phone - and is available 24/7, free of charge (no commission or booking fees). All members have to pay for, is what they purchase.

The aim of Circles is to offer extra support to students who are starting or returning to university this term, by taking away the burden of everyday admin tasks. It will be particularly useful at times when workload increases, or for international students, who can now more easily make bookings, purchases and arrangements prior to their arrival in the UK.    

Key Highlights from the Research

We polled 566 students both before March and during June. The key highlights from the report include:

  • Whilst 75% of university students felt satisfied with their lives before the pandemic, this dropped to 52% during the pandemic
  • Students are concerned about their ability to make new friends at university with social distancing measures in place. Initiatives to facilitate safe socialising are deemed the second most important service they require, after good IT and study facilities.
  • Students have struggled with the transition to online / distance learning, with 39% unhappy with the experience.
  • Over 3 in 4 were happy with contact time pre-Covid-19 but this dropped to a third during Covid-19. Similarly, whilst around half of students felt their university was value for money pre-Covid, now just under a quarter feel that way.
  • Fears about employability topped the list of concerns, with 50% worried about their ability to get a job.

Opinion on Circles 

Andrew Wilkinson, CEO schools & universities said: "Going to university can be a daunting experience and the introduction of social distancing measures will make it harder for new students to settle into university life. We have worked in close partnership with universities to introduce appropriate measures to protect the physical health of students, but protecting their mental health is also crucial. 

"The introduction of Circles is another step in making sure that students living in accommodation we are managing have the support they need when they need it. Our latest research suggests that now more than ever, students require innovative tools to help them settle into their new surroundings and thrive academically."

Jon Oxley, Assistant Director Estates and Facilities Services, Northumbria University commented: "We are delighted to introduce Sodexo's concierge offer at Northumbria University. Giving our students the opportunity to use this offer on such services such as travel arrangements, grocery shopping, arranging gifts for friends and family and additional cleaning services as and when they require, takes the Northumbria residential experience to a different level.

In addition, having the concierge offer for students takes away stress and anxiety pressures and gives back crucial time to study and meet new friends." 

Press Coverage

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