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The Campus Tour Experience

Sam Sullivan
Art Director

The campus tour is a grand opportunity to not only show off the spectacular areas of campus! But, it’s also more – it’s an in-person experience to introduce your institution, your brand, to prospective students and their families. Expand upon the typical walk around campus to create a brand experience that is memorable because it’s true to your brand.

Let’s use our imagination for a few minutes. Have you been to Disney World recently? Do you remember entering the Magic Kingdom and the wonder that Main Street, USA created? The bright colors, the spectacular view of Cinderella’s Castle, the smiles from kids to employees, and the smell of popcorn. What did it that experience make you feel? Personally, I wanted a t-shirt with Mickey Mouse ASAP and to race down that street to see the Cinderella Castle up close!

This is what a great brand experience feels like. This is what your campus tour can feel like when you choose to use your tour as a brand experience.

Campus Tour Transformation

The campus tour is usually a prospective student’s first time on campus. What should they feel when they arrive? What makes your tour stand out from the other four they’ve been on this month? To spark your thinking we’ve called out a few scenarios that elaborate on this transformation.
Virtual Tour

Define Your Tour Experience

What are a few of the keywords that define your institution’s persona? Are you welcoming or innovative? If your brand is welcoming, your tour guides had better be friendly! If passion better suits your brand, I would expect the tour to kick of energy and flavor – opposed to an awkwardly quiet admissions office. Is your brand innovative? If so, your virtual tour better be an easy-to-use virtual experience. For example, Georgia Tech creates an immersive virtual experience on their website complete with a student to guide you through the campus.

Tour Guides or Brand Ambassadors?

In their tour guide job description the University of Michigan lays out exactly what type of brand experience they are looking to create:

The Huetwell Visitors Center’s staff convey the Michigan spirit and the values we strive to embrace – enthusiasm, a commitment to excellence and diversity, and a sense of community, within both the University and Ann Arbor.

From the get-go the University of Michigan is letting their potential tour guides know that this job is more than walking backwards and knowing building names, it’s about sharing the essence of who the University of Michigan is. This job isn’t simply a tour guide, it’s a brand ambassador.

Increase the Experience and Avoid Pitfalls

  • From the moment prospective students and their families arrive on campus they should be treated like your most valued guests. Easy ways to ensure a positive experience include; easy to find and accessible parking, umbrellas for a rainy day, refreshments, and of course swag!
  • While the quickest way from stop A to stop B on the tour is between the backside of the buildings – no one wants to see trash dumpsters and sewer drains.
  • Neil Armstrong Statue, Purdue UniversityMonuments and landmarks are not only great sights, they launch your brand ambassadors into talking points on the legacy of the University and how that same spirit exists today. For example, at Purdue University the statue of Neil Armstrong outside the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering is a popular photo spot and when utilized by the brand ambassadors, it speaks to the innovative and amazing work that takes place in this building today! Not to mention the memorable selfies teens head home with.
  • Connect with current students and professors who can offer insight and valuable experiences for prospective students.

There is much to consider when transforming your campus tour into brand experience and these are only a few ideas. What have you found to be successful in creating an authentic and memorable experience with your campus tour?

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