3 on Thursday

3 on Thursday: Wrapping up CIVSA!

We learned. We hugged. We cheesesteaked!

CIVSA (the Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Association) held their annual conference in Philadelphia last week, and we're still reeling from 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.

Whether you were there or missed out, we're ready to break down our three big takeaways from the conference for you.

  • Campus Visit Growth. There has been tremendous growth and momentum to the campus visit industry. CIVSA has grown to over 1000 members and had approximately 600 campus visit professionals in attendance at the annual conference this year. The campus visit has steadily been gaining the recognition it deserves and is now seen as one of (if not THE) the most importance pieces of the recruitment and enrollment of best-fit students. What does this mean for the industry? More and more of our clients are hiring dedicated campus visit professionals. No application reading, no traveling. Just all campus visit, all the time.
  • Prior-Prior = Chaos-Chaos The introduction of Prior-Prior financial aid packaging is hitting the campus visit hard. We're seeing an increase of students visiting 4 - 5 times, especially if they committed back in the fall. By the spring, they're already looking for orientation-esuqe programs. What does this mean for you? You may need to think about adding early orientation programs, moving up your accepted student programming earlier in the year and/or adding a spring program for students that deposited in the fall.
  • Ambassador Struggles are Real. Conversations, how to handle difficult parent questions, what to wear, how to behave... you name it, they're struggling. If you're still training your tour guides now like you did 5 years ago, it's time to change. Think beyond customer service training. Improv training, networking hours, and even demonstrations on how to shake someone's hand properly may go a long way with this generation.

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. Pardon our french, but our colleagues are kind of badasses in the campus visit world. Congratulations to our colleagues from several client campuses who were honored as recipients of CIVSA annual awards at the Roaring '20s closing dinner (hence the outfits)!

Olivia McGuckin, Randolph-Macon College, Inaugural Individual Achievement Award  

Olivia McGuckin, Randolph-Macon College, Inaugural Individual Achievement Award  

Wes Sullivan, California Lutheran University,       Nick Kovalakides Outstanding Service Award

Wes Sullivan, California Lutheran University,       Nick Kovalakides Outstanding Service Award

Terri Franks, University of Georgia Footprint Award

Terri Franks, University of Georgia
Footprint Award

Philadelphia Shoop, Flagler College,          Footprint Award

Philadelphia Shoop, Flagler College,          Footprint Award

3 on Thursday: Yield Season - high-fives, deep dives and (how to) survive

60 days til May 1...but who's counting?! You and all your guests, that's who! Spring breaks are rolling through, and your campus is most likely in the throes of hosting a slew of accepted students and their parents, visiting prior to making their choice.

While planning strategies and tactics for yield should be a year-long activity, what can you do starting tomorrow to make accepted student visits better toward yielding those students?

1. Celebrate admitted students (and their co-purchasing parents): It may sound simple, but be sure to say "Congratulations on being accepted!" But how can you easily identify accepted students from the sea of high school juniors on tour? Provide color-coded name tags, stickers, and/or lanyards that designate them as accepted students.

Ready to kick it up a level? Consider sending out a daily email or posting to a common network message board the names of accepted students visiting each day and reminding your community to congratulate the families and welcome them to your community.

2. Be intentional about their visit content: If I'm an accepted student, do you really think I want to listen to an info session that includes the application process? Boring! It's time to break accepted students away from the typical visit offering! Ask them what they want to see or do and give them the tools (maps, a personal tour guide or a custom-built visit) to get them what they need to make their decision. What's the one piece most of our clients miss? Connecting accepted students to each other! Juniors in high school on tour may not be ready to make friends with each other, but accepted students are. How can you help forge those relationships?

Kicking it up a level? Educate and challenge your staff, faculty and student guides to change their pronouns from "I" and "We" to "You" and "You'll" (as in "This is where you'll live during your freshmen year!"). It's inclusive and helps guests visualize themselves as part of your community.

3. Get low on Maslow's Hierarchy: If a student is accepted, they're ready for a deeper dive. From our experience and perspective, students (and their families) are ready to see where students will live, park, eat, hang out and study. Once students and their parents vet your facilities and trust that you'll have their basic (but important) needs met, they'll listen to you about how great the transformative experience you provide will be.

Remember, all purchasing is emotional! Schools that forge and faciltate more emotionally engaging connections between admitted students to the location/city/town, campus, faculty/staff, current students and, most importantly, with each other (other admitted students) are the colleges and universities that will have a happier May 1, 2017.

What are you doing to help accepted students have a more emotionally engaging visit? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #renderthevisit!

"3 on Thursday" : 2016 Campus Visit Trends

Render Experiences had a banner 2016 thanks to our ten new and ten renewal clients. Dani Napier joined our team as Associate, and we launched our new website and this blog.

Along the way this year, our team has taken an estimated 200 campus tours, spent 300+ nights in hotels, presented at six conferences and flown 302 segments.

So during our last trip, Jeff Kallay and Brittney Joyce recorded this "3 on Thursday" video where they chat about three campus visit trends from 2016 and some tips related to them:

  1. Prospective families are obessed about the basics.
  2. You can't movitate student tour guides and ambassadors in a vacuum.
  3. Prospective families are bored quickly and the information session and tour have to be deconstructed into digestible nuggets.

Watch and ponder! We hope to see you in 2017 at one of the many conferences we'll be attending to discuss in person.

Until then, be merry and enjoy your holiday break!