tour guide

Washi Tape: Not Just for Taping

Aesthetics matter. Every time we're on a campus, we take loads of photos for our clients of positive, negative, and missed cues, many of which are rooted in the aesthetics of campus.

We often think that investing in aethetics of building interiors is going to be expensive. Installing art, painting, designing and installing large graphics, wrapped windows... it's can be a daunting task (but well worth the effort).

But during our travels, we've started to see college students take aesethics into their own hands. Without big resources to make interiors more fun and festive, they are turning to a cheap option to spruce things up - washi tape.

Check out some of the examples from our travels. Can you invest in washi tape and let your students take it from there?

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. 

The Hills are Alive... with Tour Guide Recruitment

The start of the academic year ushers in a new freshmen class, the kick off of travel season, and for many of you, your tour guide recruitment and selection process.

We've always preached - it's not what you do or say, but how you make people feel. We love this video shared with us by Tracey O'Kelley with the Clemson University Visitors Center. One of their tour guides, Peyton, shot, edited and produced this short video to help with tour guide selection (way to go, Peyton). It gives us all the feels.

Do you have a unique way you're reaching out to campus to recruit and select tour guides? Share your flyers, videos and strategies on Facebook with us. Happy recruiting!

"Hi, My Name Is..."

We've said it before: tour guides are the most important people in this process. They have a lot of responsbility in guiding our guests, answering their questions, and being genuine, authentic representatives of their schools.

We love this video from our client, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, because it shows a well-trained ambassador doing one thing really, really well - flipping the question of "Why did I choose UAB?" to "What keeps me coming back to UAB?"

Keep telling stories, Jared! Special shoutout to Tyler Peterson, Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Assistance at UAB, for sharing with us.

Got a cool photo, video or story of good things happening on your campus? Let us brag on you by sending it our way!

Silence isn't always awkward

Ever have that professor in college that lectured you for 50 intense minutes? Us too. It's exhausting, right? Campus tours can feel the same way. Some guides can spend a full tour talking at families, hardly pausing to breathe (in their defense, they're often trained to share way too much information in a short amount of time).

As part of our Steps to Being Memorable tour guide/ambassador workshop, we talk about the power of silence. There's so much families are taking in for the first time. They need time to process it all, absorb the newness of campus, listen to the sounds and chatter around them and just soak it in.

Today, Adweek featured a commercial from Norway that tells the story of how powerful quiet can be.

Pause from your busy day, watch and enjoy the quiet. And train your tour guides to do the same.

3 on Thursday: What We Learned from CIVSA SDI

2017 marks our fourth year presenting at the Collegiate Information Visitor Services Association's Student Development Institute (CIVSA SDI)! We've been honored to meet hundreds of the best and brightest college student tour guides, ambassadors and professional staff over the years, and this year's SDI hosted at Arizona State University was no exception.

What did we learn? Here are our 3 things!

Higher education is a top career choice

15 years ago, a graduating senior would fall into admissions and recruit for a couple of years while they worked through graduate school or were looking for a "real job." In 2017, we, more than ever, are hearing from tour guides that are putting admissions as their top career choice. They have aspirations of being VPs of Enrollment Management, consultants, inventors of technology to aid the campus visit and more.

So how can we all mentor, nurture and educate them to the processes and resources? Students now view themselves as (para) professionals in their roles as tour guides and ambassadors and want professional development. Attending CIVSA SDI is a start, but how are we involving them in the decision-making process? Where is their voice?

Their desire for a more active leadership role within your area leads us to the second thing we learned: For many of today’s students, their involvement as a tour guide is not just for love of school but for career experience.

We are noticing many ambassadors are behaving more strategically in their thinking about the campus visit. They understand the soft skills they gain and value in being a guide: problem-solving, public relations, the ability to anticipate, active listening, we could go on and on. We suspect this is why many students filled the front rows of our breakout session assigned for the professional staff/advisors: “Hello from the Outside: Lessons from Outside Higher Education” This session talked about how you should look at banks, hotels, and other experiences to improve your campus visit.

Why is this all happening?

A recent editorial “The Last American Teen" about Homeland/GenZ in a special “Brand Story Telling Guide” of Adweek Magazine ponders:

"What we’re looking at is an entire generation coming of age during a period of cultural crashing, where the economic and social fabric of America seems to be fraying and tearing.

Being a classic teen requires safety and space for carefree self-exploration, and Gen Z is not registering the world as that kind of place right now.

It’s more important now to sprint to the apparent safety of at least the trappings of adulthood. 60 percent of the generation thinks that you have to start “making it” while you’re still in your teens, with many looking to get on their grind while still tweens.”

If students are more focused on how big brands are staging experiences, then we think you should (as well) look outside of higher education.

Don’t look to the school up the road for best practices; look at world class and profound experience stagers. (more thoughts on this topic can be found here)

Much of our discussion at the conference happened at and centered around the host hotel, Moxy. Moxy is a new concept by Marriott focused on making millennial travelers more at home. Call it hip, sexy or cool, it is a well thought-out experience. You don't check-in at a boring lobby desk; you check-in at the bar. Stressed out at the end of your day? No worries. There's an acoustic guitar hanging on your wall so you can let it all out. Don't want to feel so isolated while you're traveling alone? Every open space had communal seating to invite community-style conversation and activity. The Moxy gives its guest the tools to create their own stories memories and experiences.

As our client, Olivia McGurken (Randolph-Macon College) said about the Moxy, "I felt like Alice in Wonderland at the Moxy…. Everything I touched either led me to interact or do something else than I’d originally intended, or I was more curious at the end of my investigation than in the beginning…. I was left wondering and set up to keep looking for surprises during my stay.”

What can you learn from the Moxy to inspire your campus visit? (Hint: do you really need that big check-in desk?)

What did you learn at CIVSA SDI? Find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email to keep the convo going.