After the city finished a major reconstruction on much of the street outside their location, The Duck Store at University of Oregon wanted to find a unique way to celebrate the changes. A mobile scavenger hunt, they decided, was the perfect solution! By combining text messaging with QR codes, Flock the Block offered the store the chance to host an interactive event unlike any other on the campus!
“Our real objective was to generate some visibility for our fellow University merchants while encouraging new students to get out and about on campus,” said Katie Conway, marketing team leader. “It was a fun way to engage everyone in the local community.”
To achieve this goal, the store first reached out to local businesses, inviting them to be a part of the event.
“We asked each merchant to donate some type of prize to award those who completed the scavenger hunt,” Conway explained. “Altogether, we had over 40 prizes to hand out including everything from gift cards to an iPad 2!”
To promote Flock the Block, the store then advertised through in-store as well as on-campus posters, social media and their website. On the day of, they closed down the entire street, creating a rare block-party atmosphere right on campus!
With a DJ playing and free refreshments in the store, Flock the Block kicked off with socializing in the street. Even the University President and the Mayor stopped by to meet-and-greet with the crowd.
Then, the real fun started!
“We had ultimately 15 university merchants participate. Because we didn’t want all the students to show up at a single location at the same time, we decided to divide the scavenger hunt into 3 tracks with 5 stops each,” she explained.
Using the store as a starting point, students just had to pick a track by finding one of three colorful signs to begin the hunt!
“We had three teams of volunteers from our Business School, with three people each, holding the various track signs,” added Conway. “That way, they could encourage students to participate and offer instructions for those who weren’t sure how to get started to ensure everything began smoothly.”
To receive their first clue, participants scanned the corresponding QR code off their track’s sign. As an alternative for those without smartphones, participants could also text a designated code to a number to receive the information, making the event accessible for nearly all students.
Adding to the excitement, students received special offers at each stop along their route.
“We encouraged each of our participating merchants to offer incentives to students,” added Conway. “Restaurants gave out free samples and retailers provided coupons. It was a great way to encourage return visits!”
With over 200 participants, the store was very pleased with the outcome of the event.
“We had positive feedback from all the merchants who were involved in the scavenger hunt and our administration was very receptive to the effort,” Conway said. “We only had two weeks to plan it, however, so there are several changes we’ll make for next year.”
Better yet, the store was able to achieve these results without breaking the bank.
“We worked with a third-party organization to develop both the QR and text messaging codes,” she explained. “Their price was very reasonable, at about $1500, and all the merchants pitched in to help with the cost, so it wasn’t too bad!”
Most important of all, however, is the student response the store received, according to Conway.
“The reaction from our students was well worth the cost and effort of the whole event!” she stressed. “Anecdotally, I heard so many participants sharing their enthusiasm for both the store and the scavenger hunt; it created quite a buzz! The positive PR and goodwill it generated is truly priceless.”