Emily Atkinson and Lauren Mercer

As the scramble to secure off-campus housing for fall 2007 intensifies, frustrated students may want to check out the sand volleyball pit Sept. 23 at 16 W. Sycamore St., for a potential solution.

Campus1Housing – a business that runs a Web site posting properties from various realtors around town – and RE/MAX are joining the marketing fraternity Pi Sigma Epsilon (PSE) to sponsor a volleyball tournament, which is open to all Miami University students free of charge.

The games begin at noon Saturday. Free food will be provided along with prizes for players.

Students are encouraged to sign up online by contacting support@campus1housing.com, and can form teams to play two-on-two or four-on-four.

Joe Condit, a 2004 Miami graduate who co-founded Campus1Housing with Jake Burns, a 2005 graduate, said the company has sponsored several promotional events like the volleyball tournament. He referenced last year’s “Name that Bar” promotion in which students competed to rename Hole in the Wall bar, and said that Campus1Housing plans to hold several more events this school year.

“We’re always trying to get involved in the community,” Condit said.

Condit added that the main goals of Campus1Housings’s promotional events are to increase housing awareness, familiarize students with Campus1Housing and interact with their target market: students.

In order to help students with the housing search process, Condit said they will provide brochures about housing options and information about Campus1Housing at the tournament.

As an intern for Campus1Housing, Miami junior Christine Ortenzio said they are hoping for a large turnout at the tournament.

“It will be a good time – there will be lots of prizes, and the winning team gets a trophy,” Ortenzio said.

Jessica Howerth, PSE vice president for public relations, said that the fraternity is trying to promote its client in a manner equally unique to its approach to the housing search.

“Campus1Housing was looking for a way to get their name out – with the free volleyball tournament, we’re really hoping to reach more people than traditional methods,” Howerth said. “How many times do you pass the Hub, get a flyer and throw it away? We’re trying to push boundaries and get people’s attention.”

Most of Oxford’s more established, traditional housing companies stick to conventional methods of marketing, such as print advertisements and Web sites.

Donna Thacker of Century 21 Thacker & Associates said that her company does not host events to attract students because they see no reason to.

“Our Web site does very well for us,” Thacker said.

Campus1Housing is a relatively new company in Oxford, making its debut on Miami’s campus in 2005, and has since expanded to eight other schools.

Condit said they hope to continue growing into a nationwide company and credits the company’s primary investor, Tom Petters. Petters also donated $10 million to Miami’s Richard T. Farmer School of Business last year.

Condit said Campus1Housing currently represents about 45 percent of Oxford’s housing market on its Web site, and plans to up that figure to 60 percent by October.

“What we found is that the real value (of Campus1Housing) is putting everything in town on one Web site because (this kind of organization) just does not exist at all,” Condit said.

While many of Oxford’s property management companies have expressed difficulty in filling vacancies due to the high volume of off-campus residences available this year, Condit said this problem actually benefits his company.

“Contrary to what property managers think, Miami is not doubling in size … with all this building, (property managers) are hoping to fill their vacancies, and to do so you have to market smarter,” Condit said.