Are you looking for inspiration for your slate of 2020 events? There’s a real opportunity to make your next corporate gathering more than just meetings and slideshow presentations. You can ace your upcoming programs by taking your corporate events back to school.
With accessible and flexible spaces at your fingertips, plenty of fun activities and top talent just across the quad, a university setting could be the ideal environment to host next year’s corporate events and conferences.
BACK TO SCHOOL Hosting on a university campus provides a significant opportunity to take advantage of world-class configurations already in place. With flexible, convenient spaces, built-in recruitment opportunities and a knowledge bank for surrounding attractions, university settings are too often overlooked, but a strategic change of venue can reinvigorate your people to rise to the task at hand.
One of the most important benefits is the abundance and diversity of event spaces across the campus. Universities are constantly innovating to attract students from all over the world, so you can count on pristine facilities with all the amenities that attendees will need.
State-of-the-art technology is already integrated into the rooms, creating seamless AV equipment usage and effortless wireless connection for presentations. More than that, a campus can offer amphitheaters for a keynote address, smaller breakout boardrooms for planning and connections and every size in between, all in a central and convenient location. In between events, attendees can clear their heads with a picturesque walk around campus.
There are also various options, no matter the size of the company or the industry of focus. Experts from an array of specializations serve as professors across campus, meaning that largescale healthcare providers can capitalize on the same space as an analytics company or law firm. The versatility of the space combined with authorities in every sector lends itself perfectly as the chameleon of the event world.
TAP TOP TALENT Additionally, companies can start the search for their next generation of leaders. Colleges are inundated with driven students who can add value and ingenuity to a company, so you can kill two birds with one stone and use the event locale as an extension of the recruitment process, attracting the best candidates before they apply to entry level positions. Universities are also the perfect location to scout management-level candidates, searching for the right fit to use their MBA or doctoral degree. You can connect with students and forge a positive brand association with your company through various avenues, big or small.
With a little coordination, organizations can also capitalize on job fairs, morning coffee and connection events or answer questions in the professional development center. Companies hoping to really make mark can even take it a step further by offering a C-suite executive or industry leader to lecture a senior-level class or host a dedicated student networking event with employees. Connecting with students and encouraging them to share their ideas may even give companies a new perspective on their own business or industry.
SOMETHING EXTRA Corporate events don’t have to be all work and no play! Beyond the exceptional facilities, campuses provide a well-rounded experience outside of the designated schedule. Schedule a tour of the university to get everyone moving in between sessions or encourage alumni employees to share their favorite spots around town. Plan bonding activities for employees at an on-campus sporting even or a performing arts show, or even construct a scavenger hunt around campus with a desirable prize.
Local coffee shops provide a quick pick me up before a day of events and can serve as great networking spaces outside of the conference. Additional diverse and trendy dining options ensure that every employee will have options that fit their needs, from the selective eater to attendees with strict dietary restrictions. Attendees will have the opportunity to get to know each another in a relaxed setting, creating more synergy among the group.
If I had to choose, my favorite aspect of an on-campus conference or event is that it lays the groundwork for attendees to generate big ideas. Getting attendees outside their day-to-day environment can inspire creativity and spark something new in employees. Working at an on-campus property like Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club and JB Duke Hotel, I get to witness the excitement and ingenuity first-hand in our world-class event spaces.
Our guests can utilize several different spaces depending on their goals, and even better, all stay in the same place, which cuts down on travel logistics. We work to accommodate the big ideas by handling the small details, so organizations can accomplish their objectives with ease. Planning comprehensive and engaging events requires planners to accommodate many people, between attendees and speakers, with different requests and requirements, but when all the boxes are checked by one location, it makes everyone excited to get to work.
Planners looking for flexibility, convenience, recruitment and connection for upcoming 2020 programs should consider a university setting. On-campus events can change and innovate at the same pace as world and workforce, allowing corporate events and conferences must become as flexible and engaging as the people who attend them.
Diane Tighe is area director of catering and conference services at JB Duke Hotel and Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, the original AAA Four Diamond Award-winning hotel on the campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C. With nearly 20 years' experience at the property, she handles events for Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits such as the Duke Children’s Gala, and global academic powerhouse Duke University.