Event Planners: Could Colleges Prove the Perfect Conference Venue?

They may not be as flashy as hotels, but corporate events at universities are quickly becoming more commonplace.

College days may be long past for most of your association members, but the dorm life might make perfect sense for attendees at your next event.

According to a new report from The New York Times, corporate events are becoming more commonplace at universities, as both event planners (attracted by the low cost) and universities (attracted by the added prestige) have found such relationships mutually beneficial.

Do such events make sense for associations? Here’s an example of what you might expect cost-wise:

Lodging: During the summer, colleges often have many dorms not in heavy use. While not nearly as nice as hotels, the prices are a lot cheaper: $30-$50 per night. During the school year, the university might use a nearby hotel to host guests.

Dining: Where universities really shine is in dining costs, which Sodexo says usually hit around $25-$30 per day on campus. “You can’t touch that at a hotel,” says Norma Charette, Sodexo’s director of conference sales for campus solutions. “That’s breakfast at a hotel.”

While the modest atmosphere may be somewhat off-putting for event-goers used to nicer digs, the benefits for the cost-conscious might make it worthwhile. Plus, meeting planners who’ve done it say you can’t beat the educational vibe.

“The attendees felt they had been in a learning environment rather than just another business meeting,” said Linn Parrish of Panera Bread, who recently held an event at Montclair State University.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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