Virginia Tech Streamlines Operations with StarRez Conference and Event Management Solution

Learn how Virginia Tech created a tailored experience for a diverse mixture of guests with enhanced conference and event management processes.
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Key Highlights

15,000+ Guests

Providing thousands of guests on-campus accommodations throughout their conferencing operation.

Improved Retention

Creating exceptional experiences that keep guests returning year after year.

Tailored Events

Exceeding guest expectations by creating unique experiences for each group.

Enhanced Communication

Benefiting from one single-source of truth across housing and conference & events operations.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Mid-Atlantic, USA
Higher Education
Active Since
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public land-grant research university based in Blacksburg, Virginia. Renowned for its engineering, science, & technology programs, Virginia Tech houses around 10,000 students on campus per year. With a diverse mixture of traditional and modern residential facilities, Virginia Tech has invested in providing an exceptional Conference and Events program each summer for a wide array of guests.


Identifying a Need for Robust Conference and Event Management Tools

Conference and event programs are a major operation for many institutions because of increased revenue opportunity during off-season months. Virginia Tech specifically hosts a variety of programs with over 15,000 staying throughout the summer period. Conference guests range from research students to athletic camps and orientation overnights, each with their own unique needs and accommodation requests.  

Virginia Tech serves as a popular choice for accommodation needs due to limited options in the surrounding areas. With large conference and event programs (such as a 1,500-person agricultural camp and 6,500 guests during graduation), Virginia Tech recognized the need for a more efficient system to manage their operations from start to finish. With a system that was plateauing, Virginia Tech required a more intuitive way to manage one of their biggest programs in their residential portfolio.

Conference and event management with disorganized support tools was proving inefficient. As their conference and event operation grew, Virginia Tech noticed a pitfall in the mix of tools in use that could not keep pace with the program’s growing needs. For them, it became exceedingly difficult to manage the diversity and needs of each event without flexible organizational tools. Between check-in procedures, event dining needs, and stale booking and event coordination options, it was very frustrating for Virginia Tech to offer exceptional service without a single-source system to execute each facet of their events. There was also a significant ask from camp and conference sponsors to offer online self-service registration options for guests and attendees for a more seamless experience.

Needed Change Paves the Way for Positive Impacts

To address the need for improved efficiency within their conference and event management process, Virginia Tech adopted the StarRez Conference & Event module. With this transition, they now create experiences for their guests that help ensure retention year after year. The biggest immediate impact of implementing StarRez Conference & Events is how easily it can communicate with the main StarRez Housing module. The relationship between the two modules eradicates previous pain points for both staff and customers. For example, the conferencing module can help with instances of double bookings, cleaning, and turnaround of rooms. Having one single source of truth across operations enables the team to work to the best of their ability and have full visibility over broader business objectives.

“I know what my housing assignment colleagues are doing without talking to them and we could survive if all communication broke down”

Darryl McCallum, Assistant Director for Housing Administration at Virginia Tech

Turning Away from Manual Processes

The Conferencing module offered Virginia Tech a wide range of functionality that helped eliminate manual processes. With intuitive dashboards, the team now has access to a big picture perception of all their upcoming events and needs. They are now equipped to arrange meal plans, timelines of events, attendees, billing, and all other functions that occur between the start and end of a conference or event.  

“There’s always obstacles but if you have the capabilities and resources to use the conferencing module then it’s a no brainer.”

Darryl McCallum, Assistant Director for Housing Administration at Virginia Tech

Efficient Conference and Event Management of Diverse Programs

After implementing StarRez Conference & Events, the management of Virginia Tech’s summer conferencing, camps, and events was much smoother. The Virginia Tech team is now more equipped to handle the diverse, unique groups living on campus during the event season. For example, a frequent conference and event guest, the FFA camp, houses agricultural students for a week each summer. FFA’s presence on campus requires Virginia Tech to expand their dining room availability as most of these students are early risers. Having grown up mostly on farms, they are required to eat at 6:00 am. The team coordinated their schedules and their facilities around the specific requirements of this group. All the information is stored in StarRez, and they are able to use the requests and data to coordinate with other campus partners.  

Virginia Tech’s daily conference schedule can be incredibly busy. There are often days when multiple 100-plus participant groups are checking in while a group of 400 is checking out. With an operation as large as Virginia Tech’s, having constant turnaround is an enormous challenge; having the StarRez conferencing system to support their various camps and events has had a huge, positive impact.

“Having to do something like that via spreadsheet would be impossible, if we didn’t have StarRez in place it would be impossible to manage.”

Darryl McCallum, Assistant Director for Housing Administration at Virginia Tech

Utilizing PortalE

Virginia Tech was one of the early adopters of PortalE, the StarRez events portal, meaning that they were able test and use its functionality before most of our other customers. As an early adopter participant, Virginia Tech could act as a true industry partner to StarRez and provide valuable feedback and insight into the development of new features. The team was excited about this opportunity because they had previously been asked by camp and conference sponsors if there was an efficient way for event attendees to register online. This was something that Virginia Tech had struggled with in the past, so they were keen to jump on board with the PortalE EAP (Early Adopters Program). Virginia Tech especially loved the billing functionality within PortalE, which they used for their culinary school camp. This change resulted in a great deal of time and admin work saved on the staff side.  

“Portal E really helped with the billing piece and really gives us that peace of mind as we can just point people towards Portal E for registration. The end user experience is really important to us.”

Darryl McCallum, Assistant Director for Housing Administration at Virginia Tech