The leaves are falling, covering the parks and fields of college campuses around the country with bright patches of orange and yellow. Fall fashion is in full swing as students begin to bundle up before heading to class. Pre-class snacks and conversation are taking place in union buildings and student centers instead of park benches in the quad.
Autumn also means homecoming, and a time to show what your school is made of. Colleges and universities across the country are striving to put their best foot forward for current students, parents, and staff, as well as provide a feeling of comfort and familiarity for new visitors. Above all, homecoming is a time of pride. Events like Parents Weekend and football games are helping the most innovative campuses use this special time of year to attract visitors and get them to fall in love with their school.
But with large crowds there is always the potential for headache - parking, flow, wayfinding, transport, and more. Yet most of these challenges can be handled with information available online. Schools big and small can make navigating campus – and getting to and from games and other events – a breeze with an information-packed and mobile-friendly digital campus map.
Arizona State University is a great example of a school making a visit to campus for a homecoming event as easy as possible. ASU - a CampusBird partner - gives its visitors access to a lifelike 3D rendering of its in-game football experience with digital media accessible through CampusBird.
Fans can use the campus map to view seating charts, on-site amenities, and get a life-like impression of the action before arriving at the stadium. Around campus, ASU's map changes the way visitors are mobilized. The school’s interactive campus-wide (and multiple campus) map points to common areas, points of interest, and gives descriptions and background on each structure.
Once visitors have identified what they are looking for, they can zoom in (from any device) and map their way to the location from parking and transit areas.
Parents, visitors, and others not familiar with getting around campus don’t want to be left in the dark. Interactive maps and virtual tours make moving around campus easier than ever. All visitors have to do is get there, navigate to the map, and find parking, directions, transportation information and more. ASU's map even shows real-time parking lot occupancy, which saves visitors the trouble or driving around wondering which lot to select (this also reduces traffic).
ASU isn’t the only school setting itself apart. Earlier this month, University of Hartford (Home of The Hawks) created a robust “Hawktober” category to highlight the school's Homecoming celebrations. By using CampusBird's subcategories and timed content it's easy for Hartford to provide visitors with timely information and easy wayfinding.
Improving the guest experience at athletic events
Attending homecoming sporting events is a big part of the celebration. Creating a Gameday layer in CampusBird puts access to every piece of information related to a particular event literally at the guest's fingertips. Picture this: After flying in and arriving at a hotel a day before the homecoming football game, a ticketholder checks the school’s website for any updates on game time. She utilizes the interactive 3D map to locate her seats. The next morning before heading out, she checks the gameday platform for real-time traffic and parking updates. Oh, and she can easily find the official tailgate party location...
And identified a spot to meet her daughter and her friends for a post-game celebration:
Rice University (Home of the Owls - Hawks, Owls - lots of birds!) has created a fantastic new Homecoming & Reunion map layer. Using owl-eyed location markers, Rice helps campus visitors find check-in, entrances and parking, tailgating locations, events, game-day specific details, parties and more. Sounds like a hoot! <( @.@ )>
Schools around the country are putting their best foot forward and creating great guest experiences. Large events like football games and parades leave lasting impressions on everyone in attendance, and the more colleges and universities can do to create a streamlined, guest-first approach, the more visitors will enjoy their experience and look forward to next time. For colleges and universities, the unique challenge of homecoming lies in keeping these experiences low-stress and fun for everyone despite the high volume of visitors.
From administration to athletic departments and to parking and facilities, homecoming is the one time each year when the entire campus pulls together to create memorable experiences for families, students, and visitors.