If you ever stepped foot in Bradley Learning Hall, you might have found that a bunch of our residents went out to Six Flags, Haunted Houses/Apple Orchards, Movie Premiers, National Lakes/Forests, Ski Trips, Plays/Theaters, Laser Tag…etc. Every couple of weeks there was always an off-campus trip. An off-campus event means that the event takes place outside of Residence halls and University buildings. This kept residents excited and motivated to stay involved in the community. As mentioned in previous articles too, our BLC was one of those residence halls that fell under the “learning community” category. This meant that residents paid extra fees to help these amazing trips and events happen! Being able to provide immersive first-year experiences helped residents create stronger bonds, a more welcoming and exciting community, and created more confident students. For us planners, that meant our event planning budgets ran DEEP ($$$).
One perk is that each event needs 2 or more “chaperones” — so as a planner, you also get to enjoy rides at Six Flags, ski down a mountain, or even catch the premiere of a popular movie (for free, might I add!)! Another amazing thing for us was that it was paid! We got to clock in for all of the prep, transport time too since we were “supervising” and then clocked out during the movie or fun time, etc. These are great events to bring variety to on-campus events and are always popular because hello, did you not see my list in the first sentence. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of these events? They’re great for community building too, as you get to spend time traveling together and exploring the destination together. Off-campus event planning can be a pain logistically but with the right routine, can become so easy to replicate and worth your time. Here are some things you should keep in mind to keep your sanity.
These become essential for off-campus events because YOU NEED TO KEEP TRACK OF EVERYONE. As the “adult” or a better word – chaperone – you are RESPONSIBLE for everyone on this trip. We typically had a minimum of 2 chaperones on any given trip – stick to this rule if you can. For very large groups, add more chaperones. This precaution is to take into account emergencies (eg. Breaking a leg at the park). Signups also help make sure no one was left behind (happy to say that hasn’t happened yet). You can go about doing sign-ups in two ways. End of the day, it depends on the event you are planning and the process to buy tickets if necessary. Either way, make sure you get their email address and phone number!! It’s great having a number to call when residents don’t return back to the bus on time.
- Signups before purchasing tickets: This gives you an idea of how many tickets to buy — so we aren’t over or underestimating. Make sure you make contact with the location to express interest in a group booking and let them know how many you expect and if it is okay that you confirm the exact number with them later. They will likely walk you through their process.
- Signups after purchasing tickets: You can also buy a set number of tickets within your event budget and then do the sign-ups on a first come first serve basis or raffle – whatever works better for your community.
Find the point person and maintain a relationship
Any of the above-mentioned places should have a designated point-of-contact that handles group bookings and special events. You can find this person by calling or emailing their generic line. Make sure to take note of their direct phone extension, their name, and email address if you are awaiting a follow-up or have any questions in the future. Sometimes, what happens is that a venue will recognize you as a return client, and might throw in a couple of extra perks! You want to make sure you speak with the same staff if possible! Maintain a relationship with this person and make sure to hand down this contact info to whoever takes your role or needs it. This alone makes the process of replicating events so easy! For our movie premiere events, we had a wonderful contact who would email us a summary of all the movie premieres on the first of that month. All we had to do was choose the movie and time and we were set in terms of the booking.
This is key to an off-campus event. Most students do not have cars and expecting them to take buses/public transit just adds more variables and space for inconsistency. Moreover, our college town was not well connected by public transit so any events outside the campus needed transport. While our hall had the luxury to pay for it, you might even consider charging a base fee that includes tickets and transport for the event. The transportation company to use will typically already be decided by your organization. Ask your supervisor and learn about the process. Make sure you have enough seats as tickets.
This is a very very important step. Most locations will have their own waivers depending on the activity. But we always had students sign waivers before they boarded the bus/mode of transport and it covered them over the whole trip. Sometimes things do not go as planned (eg…breaking a leg!) and you want to make sure you and your organization are covered when mishaps happen.
Now you got all the tips! Start planning off-campus events and get out there and have fun!