As the Director of Alumni Relations for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, Jamie Lucero typically plans and hosts around 15 events per year. These events range from large on-campus events like homecoming to smaller, off-campus events like golf tournaments and regional alumni events.
Prior to using Attend, the college was accepting all event RSVPs via phone or email. This process was very time intensive as all registration information had to be manually entered into spreadsheets. Registrants would often use a wide variety of different subject lines in their registration emails, making it difficult to keep track of incoming RSVPs among other emails. Since confirmation emails had to be sent out manually, the delay led to additional incoming emails and phone calls from registrants wanting to make sure that they were officially registered.
Manual processes for printing name tags and keeping accurate data were also wasting time and resources. Prior to Attend, the college would spend hours manually printing and organizing name tags for every registrant before each event. Pre-printing meant that time was wasted printing and organizing name tags for registrants that didn’t actually attend and walk-ins would have to be given handwritten name tags. Recording attendance data followed the same manual spreadsheet processes as recording registration information. When the Dean or the Alumni Association needed to see the numbers on event attendance multiple times throughout the year, Jamie had to dig through each individual event file and pull the numbers from spreadsheets to get an accurate picture of attendance numbers.
After years of doing most of the event related processes separately and manually, Jamie and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, decided to implement Attend before their biggest event of the year. Attend’s platform was easy to learn, and for any questions the college had, the Attend team was right there to help. “Having immediate access to a customer success manager whenever I need them has made all of the difference because it means I don’t have to worry. The level of support that Attend offers is outstanding.”
Using Attend to manage registration took the burden off of manually collecting info from all of those registration emails and phone calls and inputting them into spreadsheets. After switching to the online registration form, about 85% of registrants use the online registration form built with Attend. A small number of older alumni still want to call in, but now their info can now be easily entered into the Attend platform instead of spreadsheets. With Attend, the college can now instantly send confirmations, so no more emails and phone calls from registrants waiting for their confirmation email.
Jamie was able to easily look up accurate data on registration numbers instantly without having to make sure all recent registrations have been added to the correct spreadsheets. This real-time view of registration numbers has been very helpful in the weeks leading up to the event for making sure they have enough tables, chairs, and food based on the number of registrants.
Using Attend has improved many aspects of the college’s events, including the check-in process. Attendees have been impressed with the college’s use of Attend’s check-in technology. The ease of the check-in process gives event volunteers time to chat with attendees instead of hunting down name tags from a bin, providing a much better first impression of each event.
One of the biggest overall improvements from using Attend, is the way that the college now handles walk-ins. Before, walk-in information would have to be handwritten on to a printed out spreadsheet and walk-in name tags were quickly scribbled with a Sharpie. With Attend, the walk-in’s info can be entered directly into the Attend platform from a tablet and a name tag that matches everyone else’s can be printed instantly. The name tag printing that used to take hours of preparation before the event, and now takes just a few seconds while each attendee checks-in. The ability to import and export data to and from Attend’s platform makes it easy for Jamie to get updated attendee information into the alumni database for follow-up, even with walk-ins.
When Jamie needs to provide an event snapshot to the alumni association with the latest numbers on events and attendees, the information is instantly available through Attend. “When I look back at how much time it used to take to compile historical event attendance data, it’s almost funny. Now the numbers are easy to access in one central place.” With Virginia Tech moving to a new Advancement model and integrating the Alumni Relations, Development, and University Relations departments, the college’s advancement office plans to use Attend more widely across the organization and take advantage of even more features.
Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is located in Blacksburg, Virginia and was founded in 1872. With over 2,400 students and more that 400 graduate students, the College focuses its resources and efforts on improving human health and nutrition, sustaining agriculture and the environment, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and developing cures for devastating and debilitating diseases.