How to Organize a Successful College Event in 2022 | Ungerboeck

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How to Organize a Successful College Event in 2022

On-campus events at colleges and universities have been on rocky footing since the COVID-19 pandemic happened. Lockdowns and social distancing regulations have hit schools harder than most other organizations. Campus event organizers have had to factor in new priorities related to safety and sanitation in the last few years to protect guests and to instill confidence so that people feel comfortable gathering in person again.

As if a completely new approach to event planning wasn’t enough, industry-wide staffing shortages have made running the event even more challenging. Organizers at schools across the U.S. are having to find ways to be more resourceful with a limited workforce.

Pulling off an event of any kind on a college campus can be done successfully with the right preparation – and the right technology doesn’t hurt either. Every institution is different, but almost all on-campus events require the same things and follow a similar planning path. With this blueprint, you can run a successful event for the students, staff, and community.

Choose Your College Event

College event mindmap

College events: workshops, speaking engagements, live performance, film screening etc

Thousands of college events of all shapes and sizes take place every year, but they can all be boiled down into four basic categories: workshops, speaking engagements, live performances, and film screenings.

Workshop. Guests attend workshops to expand professional knowledge, pick up new skills, fill knowledge gaps, or learn about a new field. Some workshops, especially at the university level, offer continuing education units (CEUs).

Speaking engagement. This can include a single speaker or a panel discussion. Before booking a speaker, research their rates. Then, find out their schedule to make sure the person is available on the day and time of your event. Once you’ve come to an agreement, ask the speaker what equipment will be needed for their setup. Equipment and technical requirements are huge factors when booking a space for the event (more on that below).

Live performance. Think concerts or stand-up comedy showcases. After athletics, on-campus concerts are the most popular extracurricular college activity in terms of tickets sold. However, there’s high overhead cost that comes with booking a popular act, so be mindful of financial transparency and that you’re seeing some return on investment. Another thing to keep in mind is that alcohol is more likely to be a factor at performances than at other types of events.

Film screening. Public film festivals and movie nights can be a tremendous way to bond not just the student body to your institution, but also the surrounding community. But before scheduling an open screening, you’ll need to find out if licensing is needed. In most cases, group screenings of films or videos on campus require a public performance license.

Lock In When and Where

Select conflict free date

Select a conflict free date & book an appropriate space for your college event

Now that you know what type of event you’re holding, the next step is to find a time and place.

Select a date. Sounds simple, but choosing a date isn’t as easy as claiming the next free Friday night on the event calendar. The wrong date can seriously affect your attendance. Holidays, for example, should be avoided at all costs. You don’t want to schedule your event for a day when most of the student body will be home on spring break. Once you’ve pinned down your event date, request it well in advance.

Book a space. Most schools offer multiple types of spaces, so feel free to think beyond the typical theater or lecture hall when reserving a place to hold your on-campus event. Open courtyards and green spaces can accommodate a large number of socially distanced people. Gymnasiums are another venue option, with the added benefit of being indoors. Your equipment needs and technical requirements will also dictate what space you book. Think about things like lighting, sound systems, and screens, plus furniture needs such as chairs, desks, and tables.

Build a Budget and a Team

Build a budget and team

Build students into your team

You’re rolling right along in the event planning process. Now’s a good time to look over your budget and put together a support team.

Note your expenses. Most colleges have activity funds for school-sponsored activities (student organizations can apply for grants to fund their on-campus events), but it’s always important to stay within your allotted budget. Determine where and on what you’re going to spend money and think about the return on investment, i.e., will it sell tickets? If not, spend the money elsewhere.

Build a team. Running an event takes a huge amount of time and effort, so it’s essential to have a solid team behind you. The staff shortages plaguing the higher education industry don’t mean you can’t work among a reliable circle of support. Recruit students to help with logistics like acting as the point person for speakers or managing event promotion. The extra support will be a big relief for you and your staff.

Promote the College Event

Promote your college event

Promote your college event

You might have an event planned that is so profoundly fun and incredible that attendees will talk about it wistfully for the rest of their lives – if only they had known about it. No one will come to your event if you don’t promote it, no matter how great it is.

Create FOMO. Your school’s social media channels can come in handy here. Social media is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to reach thousands of people who are already invested in your institution. Get familiar with your school’s social media policy first, then partner with the right teams to create buzz with hype videos, promo codes, and event-exclusive merchandise deals.

Capitalize on Event Day. Make sure to get plenty of footage of your event on the day it happens, including shots of the audience enjoying themselves, to use for promoting future events. Invite the student newspaper to cover the event, and air live videos on social media so that people who aren’t there can see what they’re missing. The attendance figures at your next event will go up because they won’t want to miss it again.

Post-Event Evaluation

Evaluate the hits and misses of your college event

Evaluate the hits and misses of your college event

Now that the event is over, you want to know what people thought. What did you do well? What could you have done better? Feedback is essential to improving future events and building attendance.

Send exit surveys. Put together a short questionnaire and email it to your attendees within a week of the event. Ask about their favorite moments, their least favorite moments, and for any other general thoughts. All of it is valuable.

Keep in touch. Reach out to the event speaker or performing artist to pass along audience feedback, plus any other promotional materials, articles, videos, or images. You can also use the best of the footage to market the campus.

Improve Campus Event Management Using Ungerboeck Software

Campus event management

Ungerboeck campus event management

You can make all the above steps easier with a dedicated software system built for managing events held at institutions of higher education.

Campus event management software like Ungerboeck for Colleges and Universities offers an all-in-one platform with time-saving features designed to improve efficiency and maximize profits. These features include everything you need to capture the necessities of running an event, from booking and registration to financials and reporting.

Since Ungerboeck is comprehensive and handles so many things, we recommend reaching out to one of our product experts to personally walk you through the software and explain the benefits it brings to your business. But since all schools share some of the same needs, here are the solutions we offer to help with these three common challenges:

Staffing shortages. Anytime you can introduce self-service into a process, it saves your smaller team a ton of time and effort. Ungerboeck offers a self-service online booking portal that lets students, staff, and certain outside stakeholders reserve on-campus event spaces themselves. They can also order catering and A/V equipment, track equipment inventory, and complete payments without ever leaving the portal.

Session proposals and calls for speakers can also be made easier with self-service. Ungerboeck’s session proposal solution lets potential speakers turn over their own submissions via an online portal. Your team won’t ever have to sift through paper documents ever again because all speaker credentials and biographical information is uploaded by the speakers themselves and stored in one place for easy access. Reviewing the submissions is easier as well. All reviewers can see all submissions at the same time. And as deadlines approach, Ungerboeck sends automatic email reminders.

Keeping up with sanitation. Understaffing challenges can quickly become sanitation challenges too. A lean behind-the-scenes staff will have a hard time staying on top of essential cleaning tasks – and forget staying on the same page about which tasks have been done already and which haven’t.

Mobile work order management solutions from Ungerboeck empower operations staff with mobile task lists; everyone can see what they need to do​ and when, giving your entire team newfound transparency. The fully web-responsive user interface is easy to follow and can be accessed on any internet-accessible device. As your staff checks off each essential task, real-time updates let everyone know what’s been done. You can also send notes and special requests to operations and provide access to room diagrams.

And speaking of room diagrams, social distancing is much simpler to pull off with Ungerboeck’s space layout solution with drag-and-drop functionality. Easily visualize foot traffic and space between aisles to avoid bottlenecks in high-traffic areas.

Disorganized processes. You have to be organized to run an entire year of campus events. Ungerboeck’s centralized calendar helps you stay on top of all details related to all the activities surrounding your event program from start to finish.

Detailed, full-color dashboards offer at-a-glance updates on each event that’s coming up. You can also view stats about events that have already happened. Personalized calendar views let you filter out the noise and go directly to the information that’s most important to you. Share calendars with your peers and colleagues so that everyone involved is always up on the latest news.

All schools are different, but these tips and tools will give you what you need to organize a successful campus event at yours. And when you’re ready to start planning, Ungerboeck’s powerful platform can help you handle the workload with added efficiency and faster processes all the way until event day.