Best Practices

Client Brag: The University of Pennsylvania

Photo credit: Michael Warren, Daily Pennsylvanian

Photo credit: Michael Warren, Daily Pennsylvanian

Our client, the University of Pennsylvania, has been hard at work the past few years making many changes to their campus visit experience.

We've long been champions of people (not programs) and stories (not stats). Proud that Penn is adopting the same philosophy!

Read the article from The Daily Pennsylvanian detailing all the changes their admissions offices and the Kite and Key Ambassadors have implemented!

Kudos, Penn!

Photo credit: Michael Warren, Daily Pennsylvanian

Photo credit: Michael Warren, Daily Pennsylvanian

Photo credit: Michael Warren, Daily Pennsylvanian

Photo credit: Michael Warren, Daily Pennsylvanian

Client Brag: University of Puget Sound

We love brands with a little sense of humor. This handout at the University of Puget Sound proves you can still look polished while having fun.

These drink tickets for accepted students allow for a coffee break at some point during their customized visit. Since admitted students will be bouncing between faculty, class visits, coaches, tours, and admissions, a caffeine break (at one of their three delicious PNW coffee shops on campus) is a must.

Thanks to our creative colleagues at the University of Puget Sound for allowing us to share!

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FCNY18 & The Campus Visit: Nordstrom Men's Store

Render followers know we're fans of the Fast Company Innovation Festival. Last October, Render's Brittney Joyce and Dani Napier spent a week in NYC traversing the city to pick up lessons from the world's most innovative brands.

In the coming months, we'll be publishing a series of blog posts with lessons from #FCFestival. What did we learn that can be applied to the campus visit? First up, the new Nordstrom's Men Store!

Standing tall on W 57th Street, Nordstrom has opened it's first store dedicated to providing men a tailored (pun intended) shopping experience.

Based on their research, priorities for this store included:

  • Providing opportunities for customization and personalization
  • Making convenience and efficiency a priority
  • Elevating services to high-end amenities

Sound familiar? These are all priorities we see in research about the campus visit and anecdotal observations of family behavior during visits.

How did Nordstrom translate these priorities into a new physical space?

  • Personalization/Customization
    • Levi's Tailor Shop
    • Build-your-own-suit experience
    • Complimentary personal shopping
  • Convenience & efficiency
    • Express return (customers can process their own returns at a kiosk inside the main doors)
    • Store-to-door (free same-day delivery in NYC for online orders)
  • Elevating services
    • Shoe shine bar (serves cocktails, food)
    • Full cafe and bar in clothing area (they'll bring you a cocktail to the dressing room)
    • Tailoring services
    • Barber, shaving "shop"

TL;DR: Nordstrom is elevating on-demand services and making the shopping experience all about YOU.

Translation: What can you be doing on a daily basis that allows guest to customize their campus visit experience and make it all about them? And when they do have a request on the day of their visit, are you able to make it happen?

Cycling with Counselors: Lessons from My Summer Biking Adventure

Last June, I had the opportunity to join up with the Tour D'Admission, a group of college counselors that spend a summer week cycling to college campuses in a different region/state. This year, their Pacific Northwest tour route came right by my place on Puget Sound. I started biking a few months earlier, so I joined them for the ride from the Vashon Island Ferry to the campus of University of Puget Sound. As part of their trip, They stay in campus housing, enjoy campus dining, tour campus, and meet with admissions.

When I met up with them, we battled the hills of Tacoma in chilly, wet weather together, dined on delicious chowder and sourdough at a local favorite restaurant (Duke's), and chatted about all things college admissions.

What did I learn from these counseling professionals?

  1. They, like Render Experiences, believe in campus visits that embrace authenticity and reveal the DNA of a campus.
  2. Where students will eat, sleep and live their lives matter and should be revealed early in the tour.
  3. Outcomes matter, and information sessions should have an abundance of them.
  4. Tours all sound alike, and the commonality of campuses (security, forming clubs, one-cards, etc) become boring.
  5. Customize to families' wants/needs as much as possible.

Will I join Tour D'Admission for their Summer 2019 tour? Stay tuned to find out!

Next Level Showrooms: Creating Residential Sales Centers

If you've been following Render(ings) for the past year, you know we've mentioned the increased emphasis and attention today's parents place on dining, residential life, and student services during campus visits. Specific to residence life, how do you reveal the breadth and experience of residential living on campus when you show a generic showroom? And does it have to be high-tech?

Recently, I joined some friends as they searched for a new home. A new home, like a residential college experience, is both an intimate product choice and investment.

I really liked how they had these large boards (imaged and finished on a nice solid board) revealed models; photos on one side and floor plans on the other. I watched as the salespeople used them, as did potential buyers. Putting these "in-hand" allowed a tactic sensory moment and also made it more real (vs. digital).

How can you emulate this approach on your campus?

  • A board could have one side listing all the types of halls (community, suite, apartment), who lives there (first-years or upperclassmen), a map of where it is on campus, and exterior and interior (community spaces) photos.

  • The other side could have floor plans of the building/hall as well as the floor plan of room(s) and photos of current students' rooms.

Bonus points for putting them on the walls of your showrooms to help turn the space into a true residential sales center.

Client Brag: University of Richmond

Shout out to the University of Richmond for crafting this campus visit mailer promoting their rockin' dining hall.

It would have taken a lot for this severe arachnophobic to visit UR as a high school student, but... cookies > fear of spiders.

We love the mailer for its focus on the importance of food, the explanation of nickname (D-Hall), and, most importantly, the "pro tip." A big kudos to their team for pulling prospective families into the experience of eating lunch on campus and giving them the toolkit to fit in like a Spider.

Thanks to our great colleagues at UR for allowing us to share!

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3 Things for Your Back-to-School Checklist

It's that time of year when we say "It's that time of year!" A phrase typically accompanied with "Where did the summer go?!" and "August already?!" We know you're busy preparing for students to return to campus and making preparations for a new crop of visitors to hit your campus this fall. 

3 quick things you want to ensure are on your Campus Visit Back-to-School checklist: 

1. Open dates for the Fall 2018 semester and plans to open Spring 2019 dates soon. 
Many families are booking campus visits while their availability is being challenged by upcoming holidays, family obligations, sports/plays/student activities commitments, senior activities and dances, SAT/ACT dates, and more. Your calendar should be up and ready for them to see you this fall. 

2. A homepage that prominently features a link directly to the visit.
Please don't make us hunt for the campus visit and your registration (or navigate through pages of paragraphs trying to woo us to visit). Get visitors as quickly to a calendar and details as possible. Take a cue from our clients Lynn University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, and Seattle University.  

3. Solid Ambassador Training.
New ambassadors, veterans, students who don't remember anything after the long summer; you have them all back, and now what to do with them? Trainings, retreats and workshops will look different based on your resources and ambassador group, but if there is one thing that should be included, it's this - walk. the. route. together. What works at each stop, what doesn't, where do families get bored, what are the best stories to tell? Share with each other in real time. 

And if you're in or near Boston, Philadelphia, or New York, consider joining us for {More} Steps To Being Memorable. It's our signature ambassador workshop with a little extra somethin' somethin'. 

Not in those areas? Hit us up to learn about you can bring us to campus to be a part of your ambassador training. 

Happy August to all! 

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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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? 

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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