They might have held their party a little early by Prince’s standards, but the University of Dayton Bookstore welcomed its freshmen students to school while going back in time.
The UD Bookstore’s First-Year Night, which welcomes all students back to campus but specifically targets freshmen, was themed “Party Like It’s 1997” to focus on the incoming Class of 2018.
Students listened to ‘90s music, enjoyed food and drinks, played games for prizes and tried their hand at a foray of ‘90s trivia, all while making new friends and learning what the UD Bookstore had to offer.
Website Fulfillment Supervisor Stephen Malone said that first-year nights were an annual occurrence, but this was the store’s first with a set theme — making use of Foreword's September 2013 Monthly Marketing Plan to do it.
“With waning participation in recent years we were looking for a way to create a spark and some excitement for it,” Malone said. “Giving it a theme grew out of focus groups we held over the summer trying to figure out what moves the needle for students and gets them to participate. What we found out was on-the-go-students enjoy fast games with immediate rewards and other quick fun between classes, so we had a local entertainment company set up a photo booth and students took their opportunity for some silly pictures.”
The event was a hit. About 100 students showed up after a social media and word-of-mouth campaign, with free food being the predominant selling point. The ’90s music and intermittent trivia by a live DJ also helped keep students interested, while they played games to compete for gift cards.
First-Year Night also featured a prize wheel and candy to remind students of their own childhoods in the 1990s.
The UD Bookstore also took the event as an opportunity to showcase some of its merchandise. Many items were on mark-down specifically for the First-Year Night, and Malone said the store saw plenty of sales on regularly-priced goods as well.
“All in all, first year night is really an opportunity for us to brand ourselves to these new students as a full service operation on campus for them — not only to get their books at the beginning of the year, but a place to regularly stop in for needs of all kinds and fun events as well,” he said.