Posts tagged events
Loyal customers are the foundation of any strong retail operation. So, it’s important that stores show appreciation for their continued business. In an effort to do just that, University Book Store at University of Washington has hosted their Campus Thank You Celebration for the past 9 years.
“This is one of the most visible and exciting ways of recognizing our UW community for being such great customers,” Bryan Pearce, CEO, explained. “Everyone always looks forward to what we have in store each year, and it’s grown to be one of our most anticipated and well-attended events.”
Hosted in May, the celebration encourages UW students, faculty and staff to join together for some fun. Four of their nine retail locations participated in this year’s festivities, which concluded with an evening program at their flagship store at the UW Seattle campus.
Throughout the day, the stores offer several discounts to show gratitude to their guests. For instance, they can take advantage of 20% off all merchandise as well as receive a $50 UBS gift card with the purchase of any Apple computer.
There are lots of entertaining activities, too.
“This year, we had a Cash Cube, similar to what you’d see on a game show, where students attempt to grab as much cash as they can in the designated period of time,” Pearce described. “We also had a photo booth, photo op with our Husky mascot, a dice game and two different shopping sprees. It was a very interactive atmosphere and everyone had fun with it.”
The store partnered with several local businesses, who volunteered their services, to provide further incentives to attendees.
For instance, a local DJ was spinning inside the store, several food trucks and vendors stopped by with free samples, and other vendors offered their assistance through donations for giveaways and raffles.
“It’s always great to get the community involved and their generosity is truly invaluable to the success of our event and our store,” he said.
To get students excited about the celebration, the store advertised through a variety of channels, focusing heavily on social media.
“We posted lots of information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, which was very effective,” Pearce added. “We had over 34,000 event page views during the week of the party and were able to increase our Facebook fan base by 226 ‘likes’ in less than two weeks.”
With over 10,000 customers present throughout the day, the Campus Thank You Celebration was another resounding success for the store.
“Traffic and sales were 150% higher than an average Wednesday, which is a true testament to our customers’ dedication to the store and the great work of Book Store team members,” he described.
They also collected over 1,000 email addresses from participants during the day’s activities, which will help them further advertise future events and specials.
“It’s so important to stay connected to your customers in meaningful ways,” Pearce stressed. “We couldn’t have achieved all that we have without them. This is by far the most important event we hold each year, because it is our opportunity to thank and celebrate the supporters of our store. I look forward to seeing it continue to grow in the future!”
How does your store say thank you to loyal customers? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
With the cost of textbooks rising, Forty-Niner Shops’ at California State University – Long Beach decided that they wanted to do even more to help ease the burden on students. Beginning in 2009, the store created a new event, Bowling for Books, to generate additional textbook scholarships for their students. The fundraiser was the idea of the store’s general manager Don Penrod, who had been a part of a similar event at St. Louis Community College four years prior.
“As a bookstore, we hear first-hand about the cost of textbooks,” said Penrod. “We decided rather than complain about the cost of books, we could do something and start bowling to raise money for scholarships.”
The annual event closes down an entire bowling alley, with students, faculty, vendors and business partners participating across fifty lanes in teams of four. The minimum donation for each team is $100 and team members pledge to raise those funds, all of which is then donated to the campus’ Center for Scholarship Information.
“We’ve raised $180,000 over the past three years, and have been able to give out more and more textbook scholarships because of it,” explained Rosa Hernandez, communications director. “Our goal for this year is to raise at least $50,000 and we’re definitely on track to do it! We’re excited to welcome back all that have attended in the past as well as to meet new participants; we want to fill the whole place!”
During the annual event, the bowling alley is always abuzz with excitement. The store rewards each participant with a free t-shirt and the chance to bowl three games.
“We also have a hospitality suite set up with lots of food and drinks and it’s a very social atmosphere,” explained Hernandez. “Awards are presented to the top fundraising individual and team as well as the top scoring individual and team, so there’s a lot of friendly competition! It’s really fun; everyone always has a good time!”
There are additional opportunities for attendees to win through a variety of raffles. The store works with both vendors and local business partners to provide prizes including everything from bicycles to iPads! Raffle tickets are sold for $1 each and participants can choose which prizes they’d like to submit them for.
“All of the tickets that don’t win are then put back into a drawing for bigger prizes,” she added. “We want everyone to feel appreciated!”
“This event wouldn’t be what it is without the help of our sponsors,” Hernandez described. “They have a chance to interact with our students and show them what our partnership is all about. It’s really neat because several of them will even decorate their lanes and get into the spirit of it all. They come out in full force to support us, and we appreciate it tremendously!”
Bowling for Books also demonstrates to students and faculty alike that the store is working to better their experience at CSULB.
“This event truly tells our story; it proves that we’re dedicated to our mission of giving back, which is much more effective than just saying it,” she said. “Through our efforts, the CSULB community has taken notice of the school pride that we have and all that we do as a store. It’s enhanced our relationship with them even further.”
Based on the success of the event, the store plans to only grow their fundraising initiatives in the future.
“To quote my boss, Don, we’re committed to student success and to making a difference,” explained Hernandez. “The textbook industry is a market that’s drastically changing, so we’re willing to change direction in order to ensure that we offer our students the best options available to us.”
Both Hernandez and Penrod encourage other stores to adopt a similar outlook.
“Don’t be afraid of innovation!” she advised. “It’s instrumental for all of us, as an industry, to position ourselves as a resource to students. As things continue to evolve, we may not have all the answers; but, we should commit to doing as much as we possibly can to uphold our mission.”
Incoming students are an all-important demographic for collegiate retailers to capture for future sales. That’s why University Book Store at University of Wisconsin – Madison created a fun way to connect with them during their first weeks on campus.
“The beginning of the semester is a very overwhelming time for both freshmen and transfer students,” said Erin Lambert, marketing manager. “We wanted to find a way to welcome them to our school in a relaxed environment.”
So, for nearly ten years, the staff at University Book Store has hosted a New Student Night to do just that!
“The goal of the event is to introduce new students to the many products and services we offer,” explained Lambert. “They can get help finding textbooks without the crowds, learn how and when to sell back books or pick up spiritwear for their first Badger Game without feeling pressured.”
In order to make the event appealing to students, the store pulls out all the stops, creating a fun and interactive atmosphere. Campus organizations set up small booths within the store, passing out information to interested students, and mascots including the store’s own Booky Madison, the University’s Bucky Badger and even the Milwaukee Brewers’ Bernie Brewer make appearances.
“We market the event as a kind of after-hours party,” she said. “The line is usually out the door so we even have the local radio station set up outside to entertain students as they wait!”
It doesn’t stop there, though. New Student Night is also a great place to win prizes. By partnering with their many vendors, the store is able to gain great products at little to no cost! This year, for example, Jansport set up a booth in the store where students could play Plinko for a chance to win branded merchandise.
Other vendors, who couldn’t attend the event, donated items for a giveaway. Using a new strategy this year, the store raffled them off in a text messaging contest!
“We had students text NEWSTUDENT to a designated number,” added Lambert. “Every 20th person was allowed to pick a prize off of our table. All together, there were about 80 prizes, so they were really excited to participate!”
But, because everyone is a winner at the University Store, all students received something for attending.
“To show our appreciation, those that didn’t win by texting received a 20% off coupon that they could use in the store,” she said. “It’s a great way to help build loyalty and also benefits the store! Because it’s good for only that night, we have a pretty high redemption rate and it really helps to boost sales.”
The store also partnered with local restaurants to provide refreshments for students.
“Pizza Hut donated pizza and soda, which was a big hit. In exchange, we advertised for them by putting their information in our email blast and handing out their coupons,” she explained. “Qdoba also agreed to give away free samples of chips and salsa outside the store to students waiting in line. Providing free food always helps to make an event more popular!”
With over 1600 students in attendance this year, New Student Night was certainly a success for University Store. For Lambert, that number means offering added value to her customers.
“It’s one way we can really put ourselves ahead of our competition,” she said. “They can’t offer students the dedicated service that we can, and this is one way to show them that we’re here, we’re friendly, and we’re willing to help!”