Every industry has different event planning needs, and some of the most unique for NYC Event Planners to plan are in the world of higher education. Whether you’re in the industry or not, learn about the challenges event planners at colleges and universities face daily.
Depending on the industry, planning meetings and events can mean a lot of different things for NYC Event Planners. From product marketing to increasing revenue, to spreading awareness or raising money, there are no limits in what events can accomplish. But often a priority is also to create a sense of community. And that goal for events couldn’t be truer for higher education.
As I’m sure many NYC Event Planners can relate, our time at our respective institutions of higher learning was filled with formative, fun and unforgettable experiences, so much so that it’s difficult to leave that identity behind. It’s why the relationship between student and university often extends beyond graduation, and that it’s often facilitated through in-person events that bring people with the same experiences together. In fact, 48% of alumni professionals report that their clubs, chapter and reunions have “significant” or “some impact” on alumni engagement.
These events are also crucial for colleges and universities as drivers for revenue, fundraising, marketing and enrollment. I would know — before getting into the events industry, I wrote for a magazine all about the ins and outs of running colleges and universities. I can tell you that nurturing relationships with alumni is of the utmost importance when to comes to university growth and reputation.
Whether or not you’re an event planner at a college or university, there’s still plenty of best practice to take away from this distinctive niche of the event industry! Let’s take a look at the role events has in higher education and what the latest technology can do to make them even more successful.
Why Higher Education Events Seem Unique to NYC Event Planners
Colleges and universities are special when it comes to building their communities as they are typically dealing with lots of different people under the same umbrella: students, parents, faculty, and of course, alumni.
While most institutions have this same audience in common, there’s also many varying factors that go into their event needs, such as:
- Type of institution; is it a 2-year or 4-year school? Public or private? Liberal arts or a technical school? These factors may not change the type of events higher ed planners are putting together, but their audience may certainly be different.
- Enrollment size; schools today vary anywhere from the hundreds to even the tens of thousands students!
- Number of departments; while events may happen campus-wide, individual departments also have their own events to plan.
- Number of satellite campuses; often state schools, for example, have their main campus but also several local campuses across the state.
- Alumni network; where are they spread out and concentrated, what cities are close to where they live, is the presence national or international, etc.
The final point is especially unique for NYC Event Planners, because the size and scope of an institution’s alumni network will greatly influence where and how they’ll be reaching this key audience.
Alumni are unique in of themselves, as they are an intuition’s greatest champions and influencers, as they typically want their school to succeed as much as administrators do. After all, they want to tell people about the university they went to with pride and for it to have a great reputation. This is why we’ll focus on this group in particular in the rest of this post.
Alumni Events: Never Ending Ideas & Opportunities
When it comes to alumni, the amount and variety of events can really run the gambit. These are just some of the many examples of the events NYC Event Planners are organizing for today’s alumni:
- Local alumni chapter events, including formal dinners, roundtables, receptions with guest speakers, networking events with each other or prospective students, etc.
- Fun trips or meetups; not all alumni events have to be serious! Schools often plan laid-back local events like pub crawls, brunches, sports team watching parties, trips or tours at local attractions or even working together at a charity or a day of giving back.
- Multi-day events on campus; either weekends devoted just for alumni, like reunions, or a series of events running along something like a homecoming weekend.
- In-person fundraisers like auctions, raffles, galas, golf tournaments, etc.
- Online fundraising events that may involve creating email campaigns, donation websites/forms, etc.
The point is, the possibilities are endless, which can certainly help keep alumni engaged but can also mean a lot of work for NYC Event Planners to handle on any given day. But that’s not the only struggles they’re facing!