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Virtually There – My Journey with Taking Events Online

Posted By Catherine White CCEP, Monday, May 18, 2020

The onset of COVID-19 has brought a great deal of change for all of us. I plan events for a living and until now, all my events have been face to face. This is my journey into the world of virtual events.

The first thing my team did was to go online and learn about virtual events. We had some experience with Facebook live events, but that was as close to a virtual event that we had gotten. We looked at what other institutions were doing to engage their community virtually, either because of the global pandemic or as another way they chose to communicate with their constituents. We learned that there were great advantages to hosting a virtual event.

Some of these advantages are:

1.)    Ability to reach a much wider audience – with a face to face event, the invitation list is sent to those that live a reasonable distance from where the event is being held. With a virtual event you are able to send it world-wide, which can greatly widen your audience. You are also not limited by venue size, so you can have increased attendance. It is important to distribute an easy to understand guide about how to use the technology before your event to make those who are not really tech savvy comfortable with your event. 

2.)     Major cost benefits – the expenses involved in hosting a virtual event are minimal, especially when compared to a typical event. Gone are the costs for venue, linens, flowers, table gifts, staging, food and beverage, and many others. 

3.)    Events can be repurposed – online events can be recorded and posted on other websites for people to view at their leisure or just part of the event could be posted if it is of interest to a particular audience. 

4.)    An event can be 24/7 – no worries about time zones or distance if you’re posting a recording of an event or if you have an ongoing engagement such as an on-line book club or a mentor program. 

5.)    A new way to engage sponsors – logos can be placed on virtual backgrounds, they can sponsor a room for a breakout session, and you can create a virtual exhibit hall which will provide sponsors with the opportunity to demonstrate their product in a one to one personal format. Plus with a wider audience, sponsor opportunities can also increase. 

6.)    Better event metrics – you will be able to access great data from your virtual event. It is easy to monitor the number of participants in attendance, how many took part in the online chat, how long people remain engaged and if they follow through on a specific link that you provide. 

7.)    Ability to provide unique add-ons – such as online silent auctions, surveys and links to online giving. Any of these and more can be added to a virtual event and they are less costly and time-consuming to execute. 

8.)    Eco-friendly – virtual events are the ultimate in an environmental win. No one is traveling to the event, no water is used in the washing of linens and dishes, and no waste is being produced. 

9.)    Reliable – in my part of the world weather is a big consideration. A snow storm can have a major impact on attendance at a face to face event. With a virtual event the effect is limited unless it involves a power outage. 

10.)  Value added – it is easy to incorporate both recorded and live presentations into your event. This can open up much greater access to speakers. It can also be a major cost savings as your speaker fee is most often much less and you are not paying for travel or accommodations. Some speakers are not willing to travel to certain destinations but are quite happy to speak from the comfort of their home. 

By now you might be thinking that virtual events are the only way to go but there are also some cons when it comes to hosting virtual events.

1.)     Distractions – whether you’re at home or in the office there are always things that can easily take your attention. Your email, phone, cat or others in the household can be vying for your attention just as much if not more than the virtual event on your screen. 

2.)    Networking – although not impossible to do in a virtual format, it really takes a lot more effort. At a face to face event you are in a position of constantly interacting with people – you’re sitting next to them for sessions and meals, you run into them in the hallways and in the elevator. Interactions like this online must be more structured. 

3.)    The business get-away – many of us like to travel and to escape from the office. We all know that attending events is seldom all work and a change of scenery can be very refreshing. The location of an event can be a big draw for attendance. 

4.)    Personal touch – at a face to face event you are able to give the attendees attention that you just can’t get at a virtual event. Whether it’s being able to grab a favourite drink for a client, or knowing they need to be seated in a chair with arms, we know how to attend to their needs, so they are comfortable and accommodated and made to feel special. 

5.)    Memories – you always leave a face to face event with memories. When you attend an event it involves all your senses. You see the decor, hear the music and conversation, smell and taste the food and experience touch by shaking hands and feeling the linens. This cannot be replicated during a virtual event when only your sight and hearing is involved. 

6.)    Motivation - on-line events require you to be very enthused to attend. For an in person event you may have traveled to get there, or spent money, so you are already motivated to take part. 

7.)    Audience limitations – not in respect to numbers, but some people lack the technical knowledge or confidence to participate in a virtual event. 

8.)    Less Excitement – it’s hard to get someone excited over a virtual event. No matter what your content is, most people prefer to be there in person if possible.

As I work to turn my upcoming events to virtual ones, it is a steep learning curve, but each day I learn a bit more. My first online event was on April 27th, and like any event I was feeling a bit nervous. But, this event was dependent on technology so I have a new layer of nervousness because this is not my area of expertise.  It soon may be though, as I know this is the first of many events that we will be switching over.

When speaking with many of my colleagues, we believe that we will be seeing many more virtual events in the upcoming year, and also many hybrid events that will give patrons a choice of attending a face to face event or watching it from the comfort of their home. I sure didn’t see this coming a year ago!

Stay safe everyone!

Catherine White is an ACCED-I member from University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Tags:  Share Your Story  virtual event 

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We Are All In This Together

Posted By Tiffany Hammond, Monday, May 4, 2020

As event professionals, it is a time of difficulty and uncertainty. The close of the fiscal year is right around the corner, and from all current accounts, it looks like budget projections for the next quarter (or more) will be a tad bit low to put it nicely. Some of us are sheltering in place, but still working hard to determine what lies ahead for our facilities, events, and programs. And for those of you who may have family members at home as well, this quarantine might start to feel like the psych ward as you bump elbow to elbow with the kids during a home-schooling lesson. The good news is, we are all in this thing together!

We are ACCED-I. Everyone is feeling the effects of COVID-19 (coronavirus) during this time. Businesses, Colleges and Universities, Healthcare facilities, and more. Furthermore, the economy is taking a toll as a result of this pandemic. However, we must not lose hope or focus. My message to share is this- “COVID-19 (coronavirus), you are strong. BUT WE ARE STRONGER!!! ACCED-I family, we are a community of talented professionals that face odds and uncertainty every single day. For those of you who attended Michael J. Lyon’s session last year at the 39th Annual Conference should remember this image:

Never have I seen a more accurate definition of what we do in the event, conference, and camp industry. And let’s also add psychic as well, shall we? For the pros in the business, many of us can almost predict to an exact science what our clients/customers need before they even know they need it. New professionals, you will get there – trust me. And trust me when I say this, this period of the coronavirus pandemic is only temporary. We will rise again! Connections are important now, more than ever. ACCED-I (and several other partners in our community like Unique Venues) are offering numerous resources to assist us during this time: COVID-19 resource page. Register for a P2P session, or connect with colleagues across the regions through Social Networking. Got a question? Reach out to partners and engage with others through the ACCED-I Communities of Practice Interactive forums. Try video conference with an ACCED-I friend (or two or three)! You may be surprised to learn, that we all are facing the same issues. We are peer mentors and coaches for each other. It’s a good time to elevate your professional growth and start your CCEP Certification journey. No matter what your needs are, ACCED-I has an opportunity for you and your institution.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods? Today is a good time to think of ways your department or your University can support your local community while also staying safe and respecting rules and regulations outlined by local, state, and federal elected officials. The gesture can be simple but powerful. For example, the University of Southern Mississippi joined Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, along with organizations and individuals across Mississippi, in the ringing of the bells each day at 6 p.m., through April 20th, in a symbol of solidarity for healthcare workers on the front lines and those who are ill. While many of us are teleworking and continuing to think towards the future, there still remain several front-line staff who must face the odds each day. Connect internally through virtual networking and send out a group matrix video. Show your community that you are still there for them. This is how we operate now. We, as a community, will continue to grow and adjust.

Life after COVID-19. ACCED-I community, in all seriousness, our nation has survived similar cases like this before, and we shall do so again. A few of you may remember the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s caused by SARS-CoV virus. SARS-CoV-2 causes the current novel coronavirus. Let’s all continue to believe in and support our researchers and healthcare systems. Local hotels and restaurants also need our support. As we make preparations to come back stronger than ever and social distancing will be reduced to online memes, continue to find ways to encourage each other. Connect with your local visitors bureau- develop strategies to keep your community and facilities relevant. Post those glamorous headshots from an ACCED-I Annual Conference.

I highly recommend each of you to do a general wellness check with your clients/customers. Continue to establish relationships and let clients know that your team and facilities will be ready when they are. Let’s not forget, many corporations, businesses, and internal departments are experiencing a significant economic impact at this time due to the coronavirus pandemic; therefore, we must be good stewards- empathizing as we work with them. The most important thing to consider right now is the health and safety of our guests and campus community. It may not be today, nor tomorrow, but this too shall pass. Friends, we will feel the effects of the coronavirus for months to come. However, we can use this situation as a learning opportunity. It has challenged us to think in new ways and form connections with one another. Many venues have implemented extensive deep-cleaning measures within our facilities and paved the way for various upgrades.

If all else fails, remember to keep your head up and smile! Your ACCED-I family around the world knows your struggles and is available to support you. I hope each of you and your respective families are well. I bid you best wishes for a healthy and safe return post-COVID-19.

Tiffany Hammond is an ACCED-I member from The University of Southern Mississippi, Conference and Event Services department.

Tags:  best practices  community service  professional development 

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The Collegiate Planner's Roadmap to Sanity: Consolidation and smart use of technology to minimize chaos

Posted By Michael Kranitz, Eventsquid, Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Practical and thoughtful advice along with unique perspectives on what many planners take for granted.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  best practices  technology 

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Working From Home….Tips For Surviving the New Normal

Posted By Catherine White, CCEP, Wednesday, April 15, 2020

In this unprecedented global pandemic, most of us have found ourselves working from home. This can be challenging, especially if it’s something that you’ve never done before. For many of us this will be the new normal for what we hope is weeks but may be months. Here are a few tips on how to adjust from an office environment to making the very best of working from home.

1.)    Create a workspace

If you have a dedicated office space in your home, you’re a step ahead. If not you need to create one. Try to make it a space that has natural light, is comfortable (think good chair) and that you can leave or pack up at the end of your workday. By doing this it will help signal that your work day is done. If it’s your kitchen table and you need to put it away at the end of your day, consider keeping a dedicated box or bin to keep things in. The more you are able to separate the space the more you are able to avoid work creeping into your downtime. Overworking from home can be an issue for many, so this is one step that can help.

2.)    Get dressed

Although many of us have dreamed of working in our pajamas, this is not the time. By getting showered and dressed in work attire, it signals to our mind and body that you are ready to work. It transitions us from the state of getting up, to ready to start the day. Most of us will also be on some form of video chat during the day, so looking and feeling like you would in the office should also be done at home. This will also make the transition back to office life easier when we get there.

3.)    Create a schedule

You need to be clear with your colleagues and others that you may live with when you are working. A schedule can also give you a sense of control and normalcy if you stick to your regular work day. Arrange for meetings and breaks as if you were in the office, and plan your day to know what you want to accomplish.

If you have children at home that require your care, then keeping a schedule and managing your workday becomes a greater challenge. If your work allows it, one option would be to split your day. Get up early in the morning and get as much done as you can before the children are up, then complete your day after they’ve gone to bed. If they are at an age where they can be on their own for a while, consider putting a sign on your door. Use stoplight colours to easily communicate with younger children - red – do not enter, yellow – knock before coming in, green – you can come in.

4.)    Technology

Working from home means embracing technology. Video conferencing is a nice choice as you are able to connect and see those you are working with. This is the closest we can get to a face to face meeting. A number of vendors are offering their services for free for a period of time. If you need some help to learn how to use your video conferencing tool, YouTube has numerous videos to help you out.

These tools are not just for meetings, and as an event planner I’m now being tasked with how to take the events that we have scheduled in the upcoming months online. This is a learning curve for many of us, and something that many organizations are tackling right now.

You may also be using your phone more to talk to people. Once again it’s that social interaction that you’ll find you need that email and text just can’t provide. It also allows you to get those quick answers.

5.)    Communicate

You’ll need to figure out what format your communication with your staff and/or your superiors will take, how often that it will happen, and schedule it. Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate with your co-workers. If you’re working on a project and running into issues and you would normally walk into a colleague’s office, don’t default to an email or text, pick up the phone, plan a video chat, or message them. When working from home you’ll find you need different forms of communication to help you from feeling isolated. These quick two way forms of communication can also help to keep everyone on the same page.

It is also important to keep a line of more social communication open with those you work with. You’ll no longer be running into people in the coffee room, having them pop in your office for a quick chat or having lunch together. We all know that we’re not talking about work with our colleagues every minute when we’re in the office. These are the people that, most often, we’re spending more awake hours with than our family. We get to know them pretty well and generally care for them. You’ll want to continue to stay in touch and hear about the personal things that are going on in their life. Be sure to make the effort and reach out to them.

6.)    Take Breaks

No one spends the entire day at the office working. Being at home is no different, except that you don’t have that colleague coming in and dragging you off to grab a coffee. Sometimes you get working on a project and the time slips by and you don’t realize you’ve missed lunch. Taking a break away from your office or workstation is essential, it keeps your mind refreshed and gives your eyes and body a break. If you can get outside at least once a day it helps rejuvenate you even more. If you’re one that really gets absorbed in your work, set timers, your body will thank you for it.

7.)    Have some fun!

This is a difficult time for all of us, so be sure to add some fun into your day. Have virtual lunch with your co-workers or an after work pub night or whine and wine. Start some contests, have people share a photo of their work space to see who has an awesome set up. Share recipes or what shows you’re watching. You can play online games together or even watch a movie. Have people tell you about their pets like it’s their office colleague: “My teammate is sitting on my desk grooming her toes.” If appropriate, arrive for your web conference in costume. We need to have some laughter right now, it will help us all get through this.

 What we’re going through is a very unique situation. We have no template to follow. Be sure to be kind to the people you connect with and cut them some slack if they’re not on their A game. This quote from Thefinancialdiet really sums everything up:

“REMEMBER that this is not just ‘working from home’ (if you’re lucky enough to be working remotely) It’s working through a massive period of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety – which needs extra care and attention. If you’re not at your most productive, that’s totally normal. Give yourself room to breathe. “

 

Tags:  Share Your Story 

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The Ohio Union at The Ohio State University – A Decade in Review

Posted By Jennifer Trumper, ACCED-I, Friday, February 28, 2020

The Ohio Union at The Ohio State University – A Decade in Review

Each December, it seems everyone marks the turning of the calendar with an end-of-year recap of some sort. When that year ends with a “9,” most of those lists expand to a full decade in review. Many of those reviews compare to the decade previous, so that you know just how interesting the 2010s were, and how they stack up to the 00s, 90s, or beyond. For the Ohio Union, we are closing in on our very first complete decade, at least in the current building we all call home!

In the spirit of reflection, here’s just a sample of what’s been going on since we first opened our doors on March 29, 2010:

-       Over 200,000 meetings, events, programs, and practices have taken place in rooms throughout the union!

-       Nearly 9,000 people per day visit the union. That’s the same as the entire student population of the Columbus campus stopping at the union at least once each week.

-       The list of distinguished guests to spend time in the union grows seemingly every month. From a concert on day three, featuring an up and coming country star named Blake Shelton, to Women’s World Cup Champion and World’s Best Player Megan Rapinoe this past November, we’ve seen a parade of political dignitaries, media stars, and authors. We’ve even welcomed a sitting US President, a Vice President or two, and a growing number of presidential candidates.

-       In keeping with Ohio State tradition, we’ve had our share of trophies on display too. You probably know we are home to one of Archie Griffin’s two Heisman trophies, but did you know that we have also hosted the Stanley Cup, the College Football Playoff trophy, and the PGA Tour President’s Cup, just to name a few?

-       If you think that list is out of this world, we do too! In fact, we have taken our event skills to new heights, when we communicated with the International Space Station in celebration of John Glenn’s historic orbit of the earth.

The student union continues to be the gathering place for students past, present, and future, and for our University and community guests. In the next 10 years and beyond, we look forward to being the place that connects everyone to our timeless traditions, storied past, and bright futures.

                                     

Jeff Pelletier,                                                               Karen Narwicz

Director, Ohio Union Events and Operations          Director, Ohio Union Conference and Business Development  

Tags:  Share Your Story 

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Share Your Story - Lori Gage/ Columbus State Community College -Institutional Achievement Award Recipient 2019

Posted By Jennifer Trumper, ACCED-I, Friday, February 14, 2020

Columbus State Community College in Columbus, OH, received the ACCED-I Outstanding Institutional Achievement Award: Single Event at the 39th Annual Conference. This award recognizes a significant achievement by an institution in the conference and events field for a single event.

Below is the nomination submitted by Lori Gage, CMP, CTA, Event Coordinator, Columbus State Community College

Please describe the institutional achievement 

Columbus State Community College launched the first Courageous Conversations series in 2015 to address issues of race and ethnicity. Past events brought together a diverse cross-section of the community to talk about education, health care, and other topics through the lens of race. In 2018, CSCC introduced a new Courageous Conversations series focused on empowering women, Courageous Conversations Women's Vocies. Topics in this series included: "The Courageous Voice of the First Woman to Run for President, Victoria Woodhull", “Follow the Leadership of Black Women”, "Criminal Justice Reform with Orange is the New Black author, Piper Kerman", “Women in Business: Addressing Pay Equity” and “The Silence Breakers", and evening with #MeToo founder and activist Tarana Burke. This series addressed important social issues and although it did not directly relate to academics, the lesson, the discussion, and the support from the college, benefited us all. The most significant institutional achievement is the collaboration from five different departments including, Global Diversity and Inclusion, Counseling Services, President's Office, The Conference Center and Marketing and Communication. Each department accepted a role to help make this event a success. In 2015, this series was attended by a few hundred students, staff and community members. In 2018, attendance grew to over 400 for just one event in the series! This increase in attendance required the Conference Center team to make available "overflow" seating. This increase also required us to revisit the number of counselors on hand. https://www.facebook.com/CourageousConvos/
https://www.cscc.edu/about/news/2018/courageous-conversations.shtml  
 
Please describe why you feel this institution deserves this recognition 
At a moment when women’s issues have captured national attention, the College invited Central Ohioans to engage in a transformative, intersectional dialogue focused on empowering women. In addition to nationally recognized keynote speakers, Courageous Conversations hosted panels with local leaders, community discussions, and workshops.Not only did our CSCC team work with local media outlets, the team was able to work with other institutions in the community to ensure student and community members felt supported and included in these Courageous Conversations. The collaboration between college departments itself is worthy of an award, lol. Numerous members from 5 different departments worked together to serve the community through our campus conversations. These partnerships help create a more inclusive environment for all involved. 
 

Describe how this event impacted the industry and/or institution 
This series impacted the intuition by leading by example and demonstrating that we, an academic institution, could not only address academic issues but social ones too. While a lot of the issues discussed were very "hot button" issues, we did not flinch. The college understood the risk by inviting these types of conversations to our campus but never let the risk outweigh the reward. Our institution is better for having this series. Our departments are better for working together. Our community is stronger knowing we care. 
 
Describe how this event showed a campus and/or community-wide effort 
This event for CSCC was bigger then our campus, bigger than our student body... this series was truly a community event. This event was always free and open to the public. We worked with neighboring institutions, like The Ohio State University, to help promote and encourage students and community members to not only listen to these courageous conversations but to participate and share their own courageous stories. Often times these stories and discussion "triggered" members of our audience, so with support from the college we utilized resources to offer on-site counseling to anyone, student or not, that might need to talk or seek counseling. These professional counselors stood by for each session and participants were encouraged to seek help if needed. While these resources are not always at our disposal, we knew the value of this type of help and could not dismiss the needs of our community while addressing these pressing issues of our time. For our supporting documentation I have included a clip of The Ohio State University web page helping spread the word to raise awareness. not only was this a collaboration between departments at CSCC, we worked with community partners as well.  

Tags:  Share Your Story 

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Five Simple Tips for Effective Event Budgeting

Posted By Unique Venues, Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Updated: Monday, February 12, 2018

Thank you to corporate member Unique Venues for this guest blog post.

In a perfect world, event planners would have an unlimited budget to work with to create the perfect event experience. Sadly, it is not a perfect world and event planners need to stick to their budget so they don't run out of money and anger their client. Event budgeting is a skill that every successful event planner will learn, and there are some tried-and-true strategies every event planner should know to perfect the art of event budgeting. Here are several strategies for effective event budgeting:

What Should You Do to Stay On-Budget?

The earlier you do this the better so you can assess and manage your client's expectations. Chances are the client is going to have perfection in mind, which is fine, but it is up to you, the event planner, to educate the client about what is realistic with regard to budget. As an event planner, you should ask the client plenty of questions and work together to determine what is feasible to align the realities of the event as close as possible to what the client wants.

Create a List of Expected Costs and Update the Budget Regularly: Hopefully, you will have experience working on a similar event so you have an idea how to budget expenses. The event venue, catering services, clean up staff, and technology are just some of the costs you can expect to add to your budget. As you get quotes and place orders, be sure to update the budget to reflect costs and think about whether or not you're on track or need to make some changes.

Get a Few Quotes from Various Vendors: If you have a vendor you regularly work with, it's okay to hire them -- especially if you have good rapport and they do good work. However, by getting quotes from more than one vendor, you can save money.

Think Outside the Box: At Unique Venues, we specialize in providing event planners with a number of non-traditional event venue options. Oftentimes, these venues will be priced much more favorably than traditional venues. These event venues include movie theaters, museums, college and university conference centers, and more.

Give Yourself a Little Bit of Cushion: Every event planner will tell you that no event runs perfectly. Give yourself a little bit of cushion (10% is a good number) to account for any curveballs thrown your way that could cause you to go off budget.

 

Tags:  budgeting  event 

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Will it Be ‘Business As Usual’ When the Members of Gen Z arrive on Campus?

Posted By Steve Robertson, Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs, Monday, February 12, 2018
 
Thank you to Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs for this guest blog post.
 
Across the board, universities are relying more and more on conference and hospitality services to introduce students to the campus. The well-facilitated execution of summer and other programs will be the springboard that begins their journey of falling in love with your campus. As your department becomes more sophisticated and professional to keep pace with growing expectations of the university departments, so does your ability to grow and consider other income generating opportunities.
 
You already know that these students are going to be arriving on campus, and you need to be ready for them. But this generation that is coming to the fore now, is like no previous generation before them. In order for you to attract them, and then cater to them when they are here, I’m going to give you a glimpse into what I now know about this group. They are a generation that raises eyebrows, causes confusion, disrupts the norm, and is brilliantly ingenious – they are Gen Z. They are i-Gen. They are here already. Are you ready?
 
THE RECENTLY DISCOVERED DNA OF GEN Z
This generation lives in a time where the biggest hotel has no rooms, the largest transportation company owns no vehicles and the most profitable bank has no currency: AirBnB. Uber. Cryptocurrency.
 
Gen Zers have always had technology at their fingertips. The Internet existed before they did. It’s quicker for them to look things up themselves than to ask a parent or teacher. They prefer to receive guidance from their peers. They can learn skills independently online on a free site, rather than sitting for months in a class at school, waiting for the whole class to keep up. There are so many ways for them to connect with others without ever leaving their house. Consider that for a moment – they can study at home, connect from home, be entertained at home, try new things online from home,… so why would they leave? The manifestation of them choosing home as their platform is that they have no need to leave the house, there’s no need to get a driver’s license. Thanks to the likes of Uber, there’s no stress to get a job to pay for gas, or to save to buy the car in the first place.
 
Shorter programs are more appealing to them at first, sometimes followed by them choosing an opportunity to dive deeper into a specific area. Remember they can get the basics of almost anything online, so when we consider the deep dives, they want to experience it in real settings with meaningful outcomes.
 
As I am sure you have anticipated, you have to work harder to get them out of home, and wanting to get onto your campus. Once they are in some form of collaboration or a social environment, they actually blossom. They are wired to collaborate and connect, but it’s getting them there in the first place that takes a skilled coach, a program of special interest, or an event that is desirable amongst their peers.
 
CONNECTIVITY AND PURPOSEFUL PROGRAMMING IS KEY
It’s all online for them, so connectivity is not even a negotiable. If the possibility of having wifi isn’t an absolute given, they won't come. This leads me to Programming and how it’s linked to their connectivity. They want to share it, tweet it, snap it, or instagram it, so you should program in such a way that they can use their devices to share their experiences, give you feedback or participate in an activity.
 
Consider engaging them with peers from around the world to give them perspectives and discovery opportunities in a free style form. Lastly, being purposeful or meaningful is a priority for Gen Z. They want to make a difference, they want to care for their environment, they want to cause change, so consider their philanthropic nature when programming.
 
FIRST STEPS TO PREPARE FOR THEIR ARRIVAL
  • Understand the upcoming generation, by unraveling the new combinations of their DNA.
  • Once you have an understanding of what makes them so unique, you will be able to educate departments about them, or consider their priorities as you work on your own programming.
  • Design your programming in such a way that Gen Z has an urgency to experience the program. They have to want to get onto your campus.
  • Provide shorter programs to entice them, but anticipate more staff turnover.
  • Ensure that all parts of the program run seamlessly.
  • Show that you also care about the environment. Find out whether this is a message that the President deems important as a school, and then build that into the curriculum.
  • Make safety even more of a priority. It is a major concern for this generation. They have witnessed much violence in their lives, albeit on their social media platforms.
  • In a world that is so instant, customer service is paramount. As soon as they experience it, they share it. So treat them like honored guests. Your story depends on it.
 
In conclusion, it’s the programming you do today that is going to make them come tomorrow. Remember, they’re like no other generation before them. You have to figure out what makes them tick, program accordingly, and then design a creative approach to make them want to come.

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What Are Some of the Basics for Creating an Effective Website?

Posted By Unique Venues, Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Thank you to ACCED-I Corporate Member Unique Venues for sharing this blog post.
 
Each year, our team at Unique Venues takes the time to assess the websites of the venues we work with in order to determine who is doing something special. This year, there were so many amazing websites to choose from, but our team ultimately decided the venue that did it the best was Bishop’s University. We want to congratulate Bishop’s University on the award and look forward to seeing what our partner venues will come up with in 2018.
 
What Makes for an Effective Website?
 
If you are looking for a way to stand out among other college venues, having a great website is an excellent place to start. But what does it mean to have a website that will entice visitors to stay? Let’s examine this for a moment and show how Bishop’s University accomplished their objectives.
 
Your Page Needs to Be Technically Sound: Having a beautiful website is important. But if you have so much media and content on the homepage, it could affect the page’s load speed. This is especially the case for mobile users who may not have the most reliable connection. Bishop’s University website loads incredibly fast without sacrificing on design, making sure visitors don’t click back out of frustration.
 
Visitors Should Know Where to Go: When designing a website, excellent navigation is a must. If a visitor goes to your page and doesn’t know where to navigate, chances are they will just leave. Bishop’s University features top-level navigation with four tabs, including a search function, to enable visitors to access the part of the site they wish. It is also very easy to go back to the homepage from any page. Speaking of the homepage, there is interlinking throughout to guide visitors to where they need to go.
 
The Website Should Be an Excellent Multimodal Presentation: If a visitor goes to your site and it is just one big block of sentences on every page, this will likely be intimidating for them. People who surf the web are scanners. They’re looking to absorb key concepts and themes in seconds. They also expect multiple forms of content, including writing, pictures, and video. Bishop’s University does this very well, and it pairs various forms of content together to achieve its branding objectives.
 
There Should Be No Errors: Finally, we must say this because we see this all too often on websites that we otherwise generally love. If there are spelling errors, run-on sentences, or other basic grammar problems on the website, this is a major problem. Web designers and content writers working on the site should ensure all information is accurate and there are no glaring errors that may take away from the professionalism of the site. In the case of Bishop’s University, this was not a problem.

Tags:  marketing  website  website design 

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Let the Numbers Justify Your Purchase

Posted By Kinetic Software, Thursday, January 11, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Thank you to ACCED-I Corporate Member Kinetic Software for contributing as a guest blogger.

Let's face it. Many times, those of us in conference services find ourselves fighting for any number of items: additional staff, software, access to buildings, the right to exist on campus.  

There is a way to make your case in an effective way, but what are some tools you can use to justify your purchases?

Note: If you are looking for ways to justify the need for a conference services department, we have two blog posts listing ways to find and measure your impact on your campus.

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How difficult is it to get large ticket purchase requests approved? If your answer is "no sweat", then this post really isn't for you. 

Or do you relate more to this? You have put your case together with the most compelling reasons for your purchase request, full of vision and excitement. It is a beautiful story ensured to not leave a dry eye in the room.

Then the response of denied comes back. What? How is this? Can they not see?

Chances are the collective “they” probably can't. While stories are great, numbers speak. Especially numbers with the little dollar sign in front of them. And while you might have had some figures in your request, what exactly did those numbers convey? Cost upfront and over a 3-5-year period?

But what about the money are you watching walk out the door because you do not have the right tools? What is the financial cost of doing nothing and staying with the status quo?

This might speak louder than the purchase price. Let the numbers make the case for you with a Return on Investment (ROI) report.

Why a ROI Report?

Simply put, ROI measures the gain or loss of a purchase relative to the amount of money invested. It means having a deep understanding of the nature of the project and evaluating the difference in time and money.

Now, I'm not going to lie. Creating a ROI report can be complex and time consuming. However, there is a reason you are asking for these funds and walking this path. A complete understanding and evaluation of the current situation is going to be a powerful tool to justify the expenditure. 

We have seen ROI reports change a "no" to a "yes". Here are five steps you can take to create your own ROI report to justify your purchase.

 

Step 1: The End Goal

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I know it sounds crazy, but start at the end. To show whyyou need to make the purchase, you need to understand where you want to go. You can then determine the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

So, what are your goals? What is the focus of your department within the institution?

Your focus will usually fall into one of three categories: Growth, Improving Efficiency, or Generating Revenue.

Step 2: Roadblocks

You see the destination, your goal. Now what is keeping you from reaching it? Why are you missing the mark?

While step 1 helps you see where you want to be, step 2 actually identifies those things that are keeping you in place.

For example, let’s say increasing business is an end goal, but no matter what you try, it is looking like you won’t meet that new target. The inquiries are there, but the bottom line isn’t. Why?

Step 3: Tool Shopping

While creating a ROI report can be time consuming, it will take you through all the steps when it comes to the selection process. It will also provide you with a much better grasp of tools you need, as opposed to being drawn in by the shiny wrapper.

Using the goals and roadblocks, you can now research the tools that will help you overcome your roadblocks and help you reach your goals.

Keep in mind, you are searching for a NEW system or tool, not a replacement.

You can find additional resources sharing tips for a successful selection process and making the most out of vendor demos in our Resource Library.

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Step 4: Gathering Your Data

This will be the meat of your report that will drive action. When justifying a new purchase, it is imperative to show the reader not just the cost of the purchase, but also how the new tool or solution will ultimately result in a net gain on ROI.

Remember our example about increasing business? You have identified your goals in step 1 and determined a roadblock from step 2 is that you do not have the systems in place to handle larger groups or groups more often (larger groups more often = more revenue).

But how do you show that the tool you have found will make a difference as opposed to staying with the status quo?

Let’s start with what you are doing. What is the value of the business you are currently turning away? How can you show that you are not maximizing your occupancy?  What is the dollar value of staff time being spent on manual tasks?

Without a system to automatically produce the numbers, it falls to you to record. Excel will be a great tool to use due to formulas and filtering features.

Step 5: Put it all together

You have the data, now you need to bundle it all together. 

Be aware of your audience. Data is king, but the review team may not understand your current situation. You may need to educate them as well.

For a recommended outline of how the ROI report should flow, visit our Resource Library and download our guide on Justifying Your Purchase. It takes a deeper look at each of these steps, providing questions and a report outline.

Ready to build your own ROI Report?
Click Here to download our eGuide to get started.

Approved!

The key to requesting funds for any new purchase is knowledge. These 5 steps provide you with the foundation to confidentially identify gaps in your current processes and show how new tools will bridge or eliminate the gaps.

If you would like assistance in generating a ROI report for your next purchase, talk with a member of our team at info@kxsoftware.com.

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