by Chuck Salem
As in any class setting, it’s always best to be prepared. The same goes for booking a function on a college or university campus. Here are some highlights and lowlights to study before confirming your attendance:
Wired for Speed: Campus technology is cutting-edge—plain and simple. Due to the nature of their core business, i.e. students, planners can expect access to top quality technology for a fraction of the cost at a traditional venue.
Campus Culture: If you haven’t been on campus in a while, you may have forgotten how absolutely refreshing it is to simply be there. Student unions, residence halls, dining halls and classroom spaces have evolved to now rival and surpass traditional venues.
Affordability: Overnight accommodations, catering and A/V are just some of the cost saving measures on campus. So, you don’t have to expect a double take from your boss, stakeholders or supervisors when booking here. Do, however, expect to get a high-five for producing an affordable, productive and inspiring meeting.
Decentralized Facilities: You may need to make more than one phone call or send more than one e-mail (RFP) to secure meeting rooms, housing and/or catering. While many campuses are moving to centralize their conference and event operations, many still are spread out. Don’t let this affect your decision; many are decentralized due to size and building management.
Limited Availability: While many campuses offer meeting space (and sometimes even overnight accommodations) year-round, others are only available during the summer months when the majority of students are gone. Of those there is a good number that have availability at night and on the weekends during the academic year. Campuses are not hotels, so don’t assume they’re open 24-7/365. Give your preferred dates and times right away so you won’t waste your time or theirs.
Variety of Accommodations: Just like hotel chains, campus housing and overnight accommodations vary dramatically from property to property. You may be required to bring your own linens and towels in some cases, while other campuses may operate more like a hotel with higher-grade amenities. The same goes for bathrooms—some are private, some are shared, some are communal. The good news: There’s usually some kind of housing for every type of budget.