The VPM Blog

Hosting a Memorable Alumni Tailgate

Posted by Caroline Daley on Sep 8, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Fall is here, and if you're from the south (or anywhere that even remotely follows college sports), you know what that means: football season. Fall means football, and football means tailgating. Tailgating is a fun way to celebrate school spirit and a great excuse to eat and drink with friends and family. Football season also presents the perfect opportunity to connect with alumni by hosting an alumni tailgate. Hosting an event such as this allows the university to show gratitude and appreciation for its alumni while providing alumni the chance to experience the excitement of football season at their beloved alma mater all over again.

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When it comes to events, there are key components that make the difference between a fantastic event and a forgettable one. Following these simple steps will assure your university's success in hosting a memorable alumni tailgate event.

1. Get the word out

First and foremost, you have to get the word out. Inform alumni about the event on your university's alumni-dedicated social media pages. It's a well known fact that Facebook is the most used platform when it comes to older generations, but don’t forget to interact on all social media platforms to keep invitees engaged and informed. One easy way to do this is by adding a section on the event registration where alumni can include their social media handles. This is an innocent way to ask for more information in order to connect with individuals on as many platforms as possible.

Sharing the initial event information is important, but it’s only half the battle; staying active and engaged on all social media platforms is the best way to hype up your event and actually get people there.

  • Create an event hashtag so guests can share posts about the event, find other alumni, and easily locate pictures and posts from the actual event itself.
  • Hold contests and giveaways for followers to boost excitement before the big event.
  • Share stories from the university’s past and ask alumni to share their own!

Continuous engagement creates buzz and excitement about the event and allows alumni to feel connected with the university. The more you engage, the more likely it is that people will actually attend the event!

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2. Plan, plan, plan

Thoroughly planning all aspects of an event is crucial to its success. It’s easy to tell when events are poorly planned. We’ve all been there. Whether the food ran out or there weren’t enough chairs, poor planning can lead to some very disappointed guests. To make sure this doesn’t happen at your tailgate, plan accordingly and over prepare. Account for last minute changes, more guests than expected, and any possible weather interferences that could occur. Better to be safe than sorry!

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3. Make it fun!

So you’ve gotten the word out and planned accordingly. Now it's time to get your alumni to show up! Every event needs an element of fun to persuade guests to attend. There are countless ways to do this, but here are a few that come to mind:

  • Whether it’s a live band or even a mechanical bull, having an entertainment aspect is a great way to draw people to your event. Use social media to ask alumni in advance what they’d like to see at the tailgate!
  • Providing delicious food and drinks is always effective in creating guest enjoyment.
  • Hosting other small events throughout the weekend provides opportunities for alumni to interact before the tailgate.
  • Adding an element of surprise such as a special guest appearance is a unique way to create a can’t-miss event.

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Hosting a memorable alumni tailgate is a unique way to celebrate school spirit and show alumni that the university truly appreciates them. By engaging with alumni via social media, planning ahead, and adding some fun, you’ll be sure to host an event that alumni and students alike will remember for years to come!

No matter what the occasion, events require planning and strategy to be successful. To learn more about how to use inbound marketing for an event, download our FREE guide here: 

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Topics: Alumni Relations, higher ed, university engagement