campus tour guide

Authenticity & Airport Seating

Render's Jeff Kallay recently visited our client Monmouth College (IL). While flying out of the Quad Cities/Moline, IL airport, he noticed this new seating option.

John Deere is headquartered in Moline, and he loved how the airport embraced the authenticity of their area and celebrated Moline's largest employer.

We love the #DeereSighting hashtag.

We love the #DeereSighting hashtag.

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In your visitor center, instead of the usual furniture, what if you brought in seating that emulated your sports arena, library, chapel, or other popular campus spots?

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

FCNY18 & The Campus Visit: DryBar

Alli Webb and Brittney Joyce: FCNY16

Alli Webb and Brittney Joyce: FCNY16

Render followers know we're fans of the Fast Company Innovation Festival. This past 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.

We often use DryBar as an example of the evolution of The Experience Economy: getting people to pay for something they didn’t know they needed AND being able to charge a premium price for that product/service.

What has Co-Founder Alli Webb learned among the way? Here are a couple lessons we thought were useful for you & the campus visit:

Brittney Joyce: Mid-blowout with hair that was 90% dry shampoo.

Brittney Joyce: Mid-blowout with hair that was 90% dry shampoo.

  1. There are a lot of copycat studios that have cropped up over the years offering blowouts. Alli said she used to be obsessed about what those studios were doing and how much they emulated the experience staged at DryBar. After a while, she stopped caring. She realized that although they offer a similar service, they’ll never be able to fully understand the thought and intentionality within the DryBar experience (ie: how they hang mirrors on the walls directly behind chairs for a customer’s turnaround reveal).

  2. The people of DryBar are everything to their experience, and hiring the right person is critical. How does Alli ensure the people they hire are the right people? She does a “cultural interview” where managers just hang out with candidates for a while and talk. If the candidate seems friendly and cool, then they get to blowout someone’s hair.

What does this mean for the visit?

  1. Stop being obsessed with the school down the road or your major competitor. We often share best practices with our clients, but no one approach to the campus visit is right for all institutions. You have to be true to your culture and design a visit that authentically reveals your campus DNA.

  2. Usually campus visit coordinators or staff members hire students, and we often find that staff members hire students who share their own personality traits (aka, we hire people just like us). Involve as many people in the hiring process to ensure you’re getting the right person for the job, and think about ways to include more rounds in a selection process other than an interview.

TL;DR: Just be you and think psychographics (not demographics) when hiring or selecting tour guides.

DryBar Co-Founder Alli Webb dishing all things authenticity.

DryBar Co-Founder Alli Webb dishing all things authenticity.


Setting Expectations: Sweet as Pie

The campus visit often serves many audiences, and you're constantly trying to please everyone. We'll be the first to tell you - you can't please everyone in one campus visit. The best you can hope to do is set good expectations on your website, in the registration process, in emails, and during the visit.

While at a diner in Vermont on a family roadtrip this summer, we saw each table had the pop-up below. It's long, but it sets some real expectations about what you can expect from the diner. When we sat down, our server encouraged us to read both sides while she got our drinks.

They put their values out on display and told customers their food may take longer than initially expected. We love how they explained the why and the process as well as their take on being a diner. Also, pie. The pie was indeed delicious (as promised).

How are you setting expectations for your guests?

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Also, who doesn't love a diner table that comes with a copy of the Constitution?

Also, who doesn't love a diner table that comes with a copy of the Constitution?

Ambassador Conversation Training

We love our ambassadors, but let's admit it: sometimes they struggle making basic conversation with families. After "Where are you from?" and "What are you interested in studying?", they don't know what else to say.

At the annual conference for the Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Association this summer, our colleague Ashley McDermott (Louisiana State University) showed us "Chat Pack" which she uses when training ambassadors to be better conversationalists.

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In the spirit of ambassador conversation training, here are some additional games, cards, and resources other Render clients are using. (No sponsored content here; just happy to share.)

Table Topics

Big Talk

Rory's Story Cubes

Conversation Cubes

Do you have something that works well for you? Hit us up on social media or via email to share!

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! 

Latest Attention Getters: Balloons?

While visiting Saint Joseph's University (PA), we were touring the dining hall when...bump...we hit a balloon. Tied to the end was the note below from one of their sororities advertising an upcoming philanthropy event.

Need to advertise when ambassador applications open? Or need volunteers for an upcoming open house?

Have you ever considered...balloons?

Look at them all! How can college students avoid grabbing a balloon and looking at the note on the bottom? Brilliant!

Look at them all! How can college students avoid grabbing a balloon and looking at the note on the bottom? Brilliant!

The note was attached to the bottom of the string.

The note was attached to the bottom of the string.