Client Brag: James Madison University

Boring elevators are so 1853. If you're in the midst of a remodel, renovation, or looking to tackle an easy aesthetic issue, take a cue from our client James Madison University.

Recently, they moved into a new space. They took advantage of blank space on elevator doors by wrapping them with campus landscapes to make it feel as though you were exiting into campus.

Bonus: They have both a summer and winter edition to help guests understand JMU experiences all the seasons.

How do you use your elevators to help showcase campus and tell stories? Tag us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your blog with #renderthevisit.


Experience Economy: Yeti

You know the Render Experiences team is all about the experience. And The Experience Economy (our manifesto) tells us you can charge a premium price for a product or service as long as you're staging an experience.

During our recent travels, we were able to experience the new Yeti flagship store in Austin, TX, which is thriving due in large part to their incorporation of many tenets of The Experience Economy.

Three things you should know about this space:

  1. It is the only place (physical or online) in the country where you can customize your Yeti cooler and products with your choice of buckles and latches.

  2. They don't just want to sell you a cooler but also the lifestyle of owning one of their coolers (the bar, cornhole, boat, etc).

  3. In a world where technology is difficult to manage and maintain, they threw people at their customers. Lots of staff around to help chat with you about their products and help you customize your experience.

Biggest missed opportunity: They didn't set expectations about how to best experience the store or why we should explore all the experiential pieces.

Memory we'll have forever: We overheard them tell a customer from Illinois that if he were to customize his Yeti cooler, he'd only be 1 out of about 20 people in the entire state of Illinois to own a customized Yeti. Talk about captializing on the values of discovery and provenance!

Marketing While Caffeinating: Coffee Sleeves

Every Render team member agrees: Coffee is important. Crucial, in fact. We pay a lot of attention to our coffee, especially when it is served in a standout cup or environment. 


More and more, we're seeing the introduction of custom coffee sleeves. It's a great way to get a message out to guests. Use an everyday item that will surely be seen by lots of folks. You want your morning caffeine? You'll need to take a glance at our message first. 

Two examples: 

First, our Associate Dani Napier spotted custom coffee sleeves at her local coffee shop. The sleeves were used to market the new exhibit at the nearby Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

Second, custom sleeves caught the eye of our Principal Jeff Kallay on a recent visit to the University of Richmond. These sleeves featured stories about current students. 


Messages on wooden stir sticks? Fast facts about your institution on sugar packets? What everyday items are your guests using that can be used for more marketing and branding? 

Reflecting on CIVSA 2018!

Another year of learning and hugs... and this time we had cheese curds!

CIVSA (the Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Association) held their annual conference in Milwaukee earlier this month, and we're still processing all the good conversations, brilliant colleagues and fun times. A big shout out to CIVSA, the Executive Board, the Conference Committee and our colleagues - we've been honored to sponsor the CIVSA Annual Conference since 2008, and we thank them for their partnership and support.

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We asked our clients at our annual client shindig, Hooch and Hors d'oeuvers, about the biggest issues facing the campus visit today. Based on what we heard and discussions, here are our big three takeaways from CIVSA this year.

Visit programs are stretched thin. Middle and elementary school groups are eating up a lot of valuable energy and resources in visit programs. We understand that children who connect with a brand in their youth have a higher affinity for brand loyalty...but a one hour campus tour isn't going to develop that level of emotional engagement. It's time for other offices on campus to start hosting those groups to allow admissions to focus on who they need to recruit - high school and transfer students. Or ponder - is a tour really right for these groups? How about a student panel with guides for 30 minutes, lunch on campus, and a science demonstration? Get creative to free up for your visit program for your higher priority students.

More isn't better; better is better. We get it. Some VPs, Deans, and Directors think more people and more events equate to success. When in reality, the data often shows that huge open house events aren't converting students. At the other end of the spectrum, an event with 5 students and their guests can be a waste of resources, time, and energy. If you need to go back to the basics to reset your events, do it. One open house in the fall, one in the spring, and accepted student programming as needed.

Faculty, faculty, faculty. What do we do with them? What's the right level of engagement? How do we get them involved? That's a question for your faculty. Every campus is different. Sometimes, the classroom visit can be really successful (if executed as active engagement, rather than passive). At some campuses the dining hall is the central gathering place on campus, making it a perfect meeting spot for faculty and visitors to interact. General presentations at the conclusion of the tour can be given by faculty. 1:1 meetings with faculty for seniors, applicants, and admitted students only. There are limitless options. But you have to do what's authentic for you and your culture. Start by asking them.

Hope to see you next year for H&H at CIVSA 2019 in Portland, Oregon! 

Hope to see you next year for H&H at CIVSA 2019 in Portland, Oregon! 

Want to chat with us more about these? Shoot us an email, find us on social media, or track us down at our next conference.

PS. Congratulations to our colleagues from several client campuses who were honored as recipients of CIVSA annual awards at the Greased Lighting closing dinner at Harley Davidson!

Nick Kovalakides Outstanding Member Award

Lindsey Darling, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Individual Acheivement Award

Barbara Loftus, Rutgers, The State College of New Jersey

Foot Award

Ashley McDermott, Louisiana State University

Sidewalks: Not Just for Walking

Let's face it: our faces point down when walking these days. Mostly because we're all walking with a supercomputer in our hands. 

So why do we keep putting up expensive wayfinding on signage? Many businesses and colleges are moving to sidewalk graphics and paint to make announcements and get visitors where they need to be. 

Can you start using your sidewalks more?

Putting "X" in Visitor Experience: Texas Wesleyan University

We love a good photo opp. And we love traveling in Texas. Everything is bigger - including opportunities for guest interaction. 

On a recent visit to our client Texas Wesleyan University, our campus tour led us to one of the most instagrammable moments of our 2018 travels. 

With a goal to have students use "TxWes" more, this installation helps build school spirit and support their marketing campaign. Brilliant, memorable, and fun. 

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Confirmations with Pizzazz, Please!

Recently, a friend of Render's had an unexpected surprise hit her inbox after a little online shopping.


How festive is this confirmation email?And once Celesta's package shipped... 


If Native can make buying and shipping deodorant this fun, how can you rewrite your campus visit confirmation emails to be more inviting and celebratory? Your visitors are taking the time to invest and visualize themselves as part of your community. Let's have some fun with our emails in an authentic, genuine way that reflects how grateful we are to see them on campus. 

Lobby Conversation Starters

Ever sat in the lobby of a doctor's office? Us too. It's quiet, uncomfortable, and the only noise you typically hear is the shuffling of magazines and papers.

Breaking this quiet is tough. Music, good furniture, ambassadors and staff floating in the lobby, and good hospitality can all help. But getting families to converse with each other/breaking the ice is the toughest part.

Recently, we were at a restaurant where conversation starters were stamped right into the table. They were provocative, funny, and definitely broke the ice.

What can you do to help start conversations between families?

Yes, I'll have a side of feelings with my burger. 

Yes, I'll have a side of feelings with my burger. 

The Student Experience: Birthdays

Our name is Render Experiences, which means we spend time pondering the overall student experience beyond the campus tour into their time as a student and beyond.

College campuses celebrate student birthdays in a variety of ways (and if you don't, you should be). Recently while traveling through Asheville, NC, we saw the display below at their airport. If you are traveling on your birthday and bring your ID to Guest Services, you can pick a gift from the airport! How fun!

We know Admissions can't control everything (nor do you have the budget for everything), but could something like this be a collaboration between Admissions & another office on campus?

PS: I definitely would have picked the koozie. You?


Disrupt Your Campus Visit Experience

Who is visiting campus? What do they want from the campus visit? 

The answers to these questions have changed in recent years, and we have found that too many institutions are not adjusting their visit to correspond with those changes. In the latest issue of OctaneenrollmentFUEL's quarterly magazine, Jeff Kallay responds and offers up a solution to those struggling to keep the attention of visiting families. Disrupt Your Campus Visit Experience makes the case for flexible tours and relevant content tailored to the GenX parent and Gen Z student now in the college search process. 

The article provides the basics of what families are asking while on campus and includes three best practice examples from our clients that have "disrupted" their campus visit to better suit prospective families.  

Is your campus visit relevant to today's audience?