Interview with Samuele Annibali, CEO of CampusX - Sharing insights on student housing strategy, hybrid hospitality, and future expansion plans

September 19, 2023


No items found.

Contributing organisations:

Can you tell me about your experience as the Chief Executive Officer at CampusX? What were your key responsibilities and achievements during your tenure?

As CEO of CampusX, I had the opportunity to lead and contribute to the development of a young and fresh startup. At the time of my joining, the company had only 2 campuses under its belt, and one of the main responsibilities from the beginning was to promote the company's growth and expansion.

With enthusiasm and a solid belief in the project, I’ve worked hard to identify new development opportunities and complete several projects. Today, CampusX is proud to count 8 open campuses, spread across 7 different cities. Looking ahead, our goal is to reach a total of 15 facilities open by 2026, thus providing 10,000 beds for students across the country.

As part of our long-term growth strategies, we plan to open an additional 10 new properties and double the number of beds over the next 5 years. These plans demonstrate our ongoing commitment to providing high-quality housing solutions for University students, thereby supporting their academic and personal success.

As the Chief Executive Officer at CampusX, what strategies did you implement to ensure the successful operation of the campuses? How did you manage the expansion and preopening of new campuses?

As Chief Executive Officer of CampusX, I adopted a number of strategies aimed at ensuring successful operations of each facility and effectively managing the expansion and pre-opening of new campuses. One of the key initiatives has been the creation and implementation of rigorous corporate standards.

First, we established development standards that clearly defined the type of properties we intended to manage, and we outlined a common line regarding the renovation and design of common spaces for all campuses. This approach helped create a recognizable identity for all our facilities, ensuring consistency in the experience offered to our students in different locations.

Today, with approximately 5,000 beds, we have developed specific quality assurance and operational standards for each business vertical. These standards are a sort of compass to guide daily operations and ensure uniform and efficient campus management. Operational consistency is critical to sustaining the growth of a rapidly evolving reality such as ours, while ensuring a high level of quality and satisfaction for our students.

In addition to that, we have developed human resource management processes aimed at recruiting and training the most qualified Team for each campus, ensuring that they share our vision of providing a welcoming and safe environment for students. Continuing education and professional development are key elements to our success.

Finally, when it comes to the expansion and pre-opening of new campuses, we have invested in detailed market analysis and evaluation of growth opportunities. We established strategic Partnerships and developed targeted marketing plans for each new opening.

With your background in economics and marketing, how do you apply your knowledge and skills to drive the growth and success of CampusX?

My background in business and marketing has played a crucial role in guiding the growth and success of CampusX. I believe one of the key factors has been my commitment to fostering a corporate culture based on teamwork.

One of the first initiatives I undertook upon arrival at CampusX was a complete reorganization of the corporate structure. We went through a significant turnaround process to rebuild a highly skilled, well-structured and success-oriented Team. This was essential to address the initial challenges and position the company on the path to growth.

Then, focusing on the initial core of talents, we have worked relentlessly to expand our Team over the last 3 years. This strategic expansion has enabled us to transform CampusX from an initial startup into one of the leading players in the hybrid hospitality industry in Italy. Our commitment to building a competent and motivated Team has been a key factor in achieving such result.

Beyond that, my academic background allowed me to identify growth opportunities in the market, develop branding and positioning strategies and effectively plan and manage company’s financial operations.

What sets CampusX apart from other student and hotel accommodations in Italy? How do you create a unique experience for your residents and guests?

CampusX differs from both “standard” student accommodations and hotels in Italy because of several factors that help create a unique experience for our guests.
First, we are proud to define our CXs as "hybrid facilities." This means that we offer a business mix that creates a stimulating, vibrant and uncommon environment that both students and hotel guests love and find exciting.

Also, we do not simply provide student accommodation services, in fact our main challenge is to offer a setting that fosters social interaction, cultural exchange and collaborative learning among students. Over the past 10 years we have built an inclusive and diverse community of about 5,000 students: this is our most valuable asset.

Thanks to a wonderful Team Unit that is 100% dedicated to the community and features a Community Ambassador for each campus, we organize a wide range of events and activities on and off campus to actively engage our “CXers” in the social and cultural life of the cities where they live. This approach not only enriches their life experience, but also helps them integrate fully into the local community.

On the hotel side instead, together with traditional hotel services and amenities, we offer our guests the opportunity to take part in several activities, events and festivals held both inside and outside our spaces.  This means that our guests can enjoy a complete and personalized experience enhanced by unique opportunities to participate in cultural and social city events.

Could you share some insights into the future plans and developments of CampusX, including the upcoming campus openings and expansion pipeline?

As anticipated, CampusX operates 8 facilities spread across several Italian cities, including Rome, Milan, Florence, Turin, Venice, Bari and Chieti. These campuses represent a solid foundation for our commitment to student housing and living.

Recently, we opened our brand new CX Milan I Bicocca and we are excited to announce that a second facility in the Novate area will open in February 2024; this will be the largest campus in Italy after the one we operate in Rome.

In our future development plans, we have new openings in Trieste, Naples, and Turin where we have two active properties already. These projects represent important steps forward in our geographic expansion strategy, allowing us to reach a wider audience and offer high-quality accommodation solutions in key cities.

What motivated you to pursue a career in the hospitality industry, particularly in the food and beverage sector? How do you stay updated with the latest trends and innovations in the industry?

My choice to pursue a career in the hospitality industry was significantly influenced by my family. Coming from two generations of restaurant owners, I grew a deep connection to the world of hospitality from a young age. This family background nurtured my passion and provided me with a solid understanding of the challenges and opportunities in this industry.

After completing my business studies, I embarked on a natural progression into the luxury hospitality industry. I had the opportunity to work in refined environments and manage high-level operations. This experience allowed me to develop key hospitality skills and gain a deep understanding of customer needs and market dynamics.

In 2016, I joined CampusX, motivated by my curiosity towards the hybrid hospitality industry and a desire to experiment with emerging trends. This world represents a unique combination of hotel services and student housing solutions that I have always watched with great interest, as this industry evolves and adapts to the changing needs of customers.

In order to keep myself updated, I am constantly engaged in continuous learning and networking activities with other hospitality professionals, I attend industry-specific conferences, webinars and workshops and maintain close collaboration with important associations and organizations such as The Class Foundation. Lastly, I closely follow industry publications and research to stay informed about any upcoming trend and news.

How do you envision leveraging your skills, experience, and knowledge in your current role at CampusX to contribute to the growth and success of the organization?

In my current role of responsibility within CampusX, I intend to leverage the skills, experience and knowledge gained throughout my career in order to contribute significantly to the growth and success of the organization.

Key skills that I believe are critical to the company's growth and achievement of its goals include expertise in property development and opportunity identification in the real estate industry. In particular, I have acquired specialized skills in evaluating and selecting suitable facilities, including focusing on secondary cities in order to consolidate our ambitious goal of reaching 10,000 beds by 2026. This strategic approach will enable us to optimize our territorial presence and ensure large-scale growth.

On the other hand, my background in the hotel industry represents a significant advantage for our business model. This experience has provided me with a deep understanding of the quality and service standards required to be a leading industry operator in the Italian landscape. In-depth knowledge of how international companies operate in this sector has been invaluable in structuring our approach. Our careful selection of properties, based on defined standards, allows us to offer a hospitality experience comparable to that of a hotel, ensuring uniformity and consistency in the quality of our services.

Join us on our journey.

Subscribe to our newsletter