Think of your residence halls as more than a way to house students during the regular school calendar. Why not consider additional opportunities to generate revenue, showcase your campus, connect alumni and act as a recruitment tool during the offseason with conferences, events, and camps. Of course, the benefits sound great, but what about the logistics of making it all happen? Is it worth the hassle?
Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, California and American University (AU) in Washington, D.C. are just two schools that have been successful hosting a variety of programs throughout the summer months.
Kim Araya, Director of University Conference & Guest Services at AU, said, “The beauty of hosting programs is it’s a great way to market the university. It gives prospective students a great feel for what being on our campus would be like. They’re eating our food, sleeping in campus beds and working out in our gyms.”
“LMU’s biggest event is the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer program, which enables kids who are 9-17 years old to take college courses. This program alone brings in a million dollars for the university.”
Spotlight on Opportunities
LMU’s programs include:
- An overnight conference season in the summer with an average of 50 programs
- Career Expos
- Study Abroad Fairs
- Events throughout the year
- Mentoring Programs
- Job Fairs
- MBA Informational Sessions
- 5,300 people stay on campus and another 5,000 stay off campus
Matthew Jauregui, Associate Director for Conference & Event Services for LMU, said, “LMU’s biggest event is the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer program, which enables kids who are 9-17 years old to take college courses. This program alone brings in a million dollars for the university.” LMU also hosts other events such as English as a Second Language, Teach for America, numerous sports camps for kids and many others.
AU’s programs include:
• An average of 200 events every year with 10,000 attendees
• A slight majority of events are held during the academic year
• In the summertime, the university hosts overnight groups and provides housing for events
• During the school year, AU hosts day only or multi-day conferences with housing available at nearby hotels
• AU has a lot of return camps and events; some groups have been going there for 20 years
Schools may opt to provide souvenirs, such as t-shirts, mugs or magnets, for program attendees as a way for them to remember their experience and as additional profit opportunities. This year, LMU worked with the groups’ coordinators to provide attendees with a pint glass and a local beer or a pint glass and See’s Candy. AU provides lanyards with the university name and mascot on it.
Using Technology to Provide the Best Services
To provide the best possible services for guests, technology is critical in making the logistics of these programs work. Both of these universities work closely with the housing and residential life departments to manage the housing logistics, which are handled in StarRez.
LMU has modified StarRez dashboards to make it work as a front desk at a hotel. This has been very successful for them. They start by exporting the housing list from StarRez and sending to the client to verify. Once it is confirmed, they simply import it back in. They also do meal billing, room changes, name cards and more in StarRez. Since multiple people are involved in the process, they’ve created custom reports using the dashboard, so everyone can see who’s done what. AU also uses StarRez to manage the process. “Of course, we need great technology to manage it all,” said Kim.
Hosting interns is another way that schools can create new opportunities and generate revenue. AU is in an ideal location for people who are interning with the government. In 2017, AU hosted over 650 interns who were interning with either the government or businesses in the area. Students who have secured internships in the area may reach out individually seeking housing, additionally, schools can partner with nearby companies and organizations to house entire groups of interns. Kim stated, “The number of individual interns has decreased this year due to the political climate. We have less than 200 this year, but the number of group interns has remained steady. We have around 400 interns overall.”
LMU’s internship program is just three years old. Due to the growth of businesses such as Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Salesforce and many others in Silicon Beach, LMU developed an internship program for this emerging market. They’ve grown from 1 to 29 interns in three years. “Interns enjoy the facilities, which include a gym membership, and parents like it due to the safety of the campus,” said Matthew.
Partnering with Other Departments for the Ultimate Guest Experience
Both universities stated how important regular and timely communication is with campus departments, such as housing, facilities, IT and catering, to provide the best possible guest experience. Summertime can be especially challenging because departments may be at a reduced staffing level or have other projects to focus on.
Matthew stated, “It takes all of the campus departments working together to make things successful. For example, we have a lot of construction in the summertime. If one of our major thoroughfares is closed, we need to know that so we can share the information with our guests. Also, some areas of the buildings may be under renovation and we need to know how that may affect an event.”
Kim and her team know that the university’s number one priority is academics. “It’s really about communication, given that we know we’re a secondary or even tertiary focus. You need to take care of the people above you, below you and at the same level as you in order to get things done,” said Kim. When Kim arrived at AU, she created a conference and events partners team. The team continues to meet regularly to share information and discuss upcoming plans, new policies and other topics that affect the team, this has been a helpful way to stay in touch. Kim also works with other universities in the area to share resources and discuss trends. “It’s a great way to share resources and learn how others are handling situations,” said Kim.
StarRez Can Help
Hosting these programs can be an excellent way to utilize resources that may have otherwise been dormant for the season. Additionally, you are presenting your facilities to future students and re-connecting with Alumni, as long as you can handle the logistics, it is a win for everyone. StarRez can help ease the hassle in the logistical process, Contact Us to find out how.
Or learn more about our solution to manage on-campus group conferences and events
More StarRez Insights
Read more blogs on related topics like: