Each month the Experience Team from TargetX will share with you a Campus Visit Tip, Trend and Talk. All of the “three T’s” are designed to give you a bit of insight into the work we do, the people we work with, and the places we pull our inspiration from. Here is this month’s “Talk”.
This month’s featured Talk is with:
Brittney Joyce, M.Ed.
Campus Visit Manager
Furman University, Campus Visit Client since 2009
Q: How did you work to create change within your campus visit?
If I can pinpoint one single thing that I helped to orchestrate that created change for our campus visit, it would be the idea of rallying the troops. Furman has made so much progress in the last several years on customizing our tour and revealing more of our campus and community in our golf carts. Jeff, Trent, and Emily were always reminding us that we had accomplished the 80% – the low-hanging fruit that had been within our grasp all along. Now we needed to tackle the most difficult- the ever changing 20% that includes small details and fine-tuning a wonderful campus visit.
My arrival accomplished several things for Furman: we finally had one person who was able to help guide and articulate the vision for the campus visit, organize all the little ideas and tweaks that staff members and Ambassadors had wanted to implement, and then finally put those ideas into action. It seems simple really, but organizing ideas and seeing what you can accomplish within a few months time has a profound impact on the morale of staff and Ambassadors.
If I go back to the 30,000ft level, I know I also helped create change by being a voice advocate for our Furman Ambassadors. Most of us instinctively run to our Directors, VPs or Presidents for feedback on the campus visit, and while important, we often forget about our soldiers in the field every day – our tour guides. If I feel we need a postcard sent out to our guests who visit, I make sure and ask the Ambassadors what they think belongs on the card or what it should say. Need a new promotional item? Talk to your Ambassadors. I can admit I’ve aged out of what’s “cool” or “hip” at this point. Just my usage of “cool” and “hip” is a tip off so I utilize my Ambassadors as a constant focus group and sounding board for ideas related to the campus visit – they really are our best audience for knowing what will work and what will not.
The last thing I’ve done is to add a good helping of old southern hospitality to our visit program. Furman is a selective institution with a storied southern history and a place with such prestige can start to feel a bit pretentious if you’re not careful in the way you approach visitors. I’ve always adopted the approach that I treat everyone who walks across our threshold like my own family – I treat them kindly, respectfully and try to be as helpful as I can. But I also joke playfully with them and encourage all Ambassadors to do the same.
Schools often preach that their communities are family, but don’t treat their visitors like they’d treat their own family – I make sure that here we absolutely do. I think this approach is slowly spreading through our department and across campus with our partners in the visit.
Q: What outcomes have those changes generated?
The bottom line of any campus visit program is converting inquiries to applicants and then admits to deposits. We saw increases in both our conversion and yield rates as a reflection of the visit changes in the past year. Our visitors consistently have great things to say about our Ambassadors, the feel of campus, the friendliness and warmth of our staff, the amount of information and help we provide and the amount of customization we offer them. They also really enjoy our dining hall coupons – who doesn’t love a free meal on campus?!
Internally, I think our updates to the campus visit have helped revitalize a staff that felt our visit had become antiquated. Our Ambassadors love being the people who provide all the extra goodies and “behind-the-scenes” moments to our visitors, and they also love that we don’t make them memorize a script and regurgitate marketing messages on cue. We really allow everyone to be themselves and enjoy the experience from both sides of the table and that has helped us provide a more authentic and relaxed visit for everyone.
Q: Tell us a story about an experience outside of higher education that you loved or that continues to inspire you.
Growing up in the great state of Texas, I can relate anything I do to football. It’s hard to pinpoint just one experience or memory, since I have a series of college and NFL games that I hold dear to my heart – close games, big wins, last games played in a particular stadium, players retiring, and tailgating with friends and family. But whatever reason you’re looking forward to the game, you cannot replicate the excitement of a game day atmosphere! However, this is what inspires me every day to go above and beyond for visitors. If I can replicate that feeling of excitement and fun while visiting Furman, then I feel like I’m doing right by our guests who I hope are just as excited to be on campus.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Inches make champions” and I truly believe it. Take the time to go the extra step and make your guests feel like champions.
TargetX Campus Visit Consultants have worked with hundreds of colleges and universities to make their campus visits memorable, authentic, and effective. They blog regularly about their experiences within the campus visit and the greater business community.