As the fall 2021 semester begins to commence, millions of colleges are looking to move back onto the campus they will call home for the next academic year. Of course, this time of excitement for students and family can also be a massive logistical challenge for institutions looking to optimize efficiency, student service, safety at the same time. Years of institutional knowledge come to bear as student movements, parking, and check-ins become as streamlined as possible. But even the most institutional knowledge matters little without the right tools. That’s where the interactive map comes into play. Utilized correctly, they can help students learn and remember exactly where to go, what to do, and how to do it. Built correctly, these maps might just be the key to making your move-in day a success and getting your fall 2021 off on the right foot.
So let’s dig in. These tips can help you make your move-in day a success for both your students and your internal campus populations.
Add a Move-In Category to Your Interactive Map
On the technical side, the beginning is simple: add a move-in category to your interactive map to ensure that it prominently appears to anyone viewing it, and allows linking directly to the spatial move-in information.
In a 2020 webinar about optimizing your interactive map for move-in day, Client Success Manager Jason Czeskleba walked through the Concept3D platform to showcase exactly how adding that category works. It’s a straightforward process that sets the baseline for each of the benefits we’ll discuss in more detail below.
As shown on the Concept3D sample campus map, Move-In Day can be a standalone category or live within the broader Campus Events category. The key here is not enabling a checkbox to show all the category’s stops and map locations at once, allowing for a more guided experience that’s streamlined according to your needs and audience.
Build Interactive Map Tours for Individual Residence Halls
Within our own sample Move-In Day category, each residence hall receives a separate tour option to allow for directional customization. That allows students moving in to different buildings on campus to receive their own, custom version of the tour. At the same time, most steps of the process are the same regardless of residence halls.
The sample map makes turns the move-in experience into a step-by-step process:
- Students that are park in a specific location.
- All students then find the same walkway to Center Field.
- Students can find their check-in table by their last name.
- The Drive to Student Drop Off is still a residence hall-spanning stop.
- Each residence hall has its own, unique tour stop depending on its campus location and other nuances.
That last part especially is crucial. Let’s talk about its setup and benefits in more detail.
Customize Individual Residence Hall Tours
Students will likely have different move-in experiences depending on their class year. The difference might just be a different residence hall, or it might be (as is often the case for freshmen) an entirely unique experience with custom stops, events, and more. Through your interactive map, you can create and display this custom experience in a variety of ways.
As mentioned above, that starts with separate map tours for each residence hall, even if they share some common stops. Each stop can have its own informational section, including:
- A hero image or series of images
- An introductory video
- Simple text describing the stop
- An audio recording. More on that later.
Through each of the stops, you can create custom stops specifically designed to help your students take just the right steps. Overlapping stops between individual tours only need to be created once and can be shared across different tours.
Bonus tip: you can set an individual tour to private, making it accessible only via direct link. That can help you build unique tours for specific individuals, such as those needing special accommodations or international students who need to walk through a different process, without confusing your larger audience.
Add Audio for a Multi-Sensory Experience
Research has long proven the benefits of reaching your audience through multiple senses. The same is true with functional information, which is much easier to remember if we don’t just have the option to read but can also listen to gain a fuller and more comprehensive understanding and memory of the topic at hand.
Enter a map tour on your interactive map that includes audio recordings. That audio, added to each individual tour stop, can easily convey complex information and add to the text and visuals already existing for the spot. The result is an experience you can guide directly, optimizing your user’s journey as they prepare for and go through move-in day.
The technical process of adding audio is deceptively simple. Recording can be done without professional equipment, and you just need to add an mp3 file to the tour stop in Concept3D’s virtual map CMS. Just like that, each tour stop becomes just a little more fun and engaging.
Share Your Move-In Information With Relevant Audiences
Active users of our interactive map may already be familiar with the share button, which you can use to share anything from the general map to individual locations through a variety of media. The same is true for both your Move-in Day category and each unique map tour within that category. This enables you to share information with relevant audiences through a variety of media:
- Share the information on your interactive map through social media, like your admissions or student affairs pages or each “Class of 202X” Facebook group.
- Share the information directly with each of your current and incoming students via targeted or broad emails.
- Embed the information directly into your websites, such as your housing and move-in pages or even your homepage during Move-In Day.
Of course, these are just a few of the many examples. Through the share button within your interactive map, you can bring Move-In information and spatial navigation directly to your audience, rather than making them seek it out.
Highlight Move-In Tours and Information Through Top Bar Buttons
Bringing your move-in information to your audience via the share button is important, but don’t underestimate the portion of your audience who find your interactive map on their own. After all, if you have a map in place, you likely (or should) advertise it as the primary way to get directions to buildings on campus.
It’s important to account for students and families stumbling across the interactive map as they plan their move-in day. At Concept3D, our solution to addressing this need is through top bar buttons.
Put simply, these are call-to-action buttons at the top of your interactive map that you can use for a variety of purposes. For this topic, you can create a button called “Move-In Day Info” that, with a dropdown, links directly to your custom map tours linking to each move-in experience.
Once again, the technical setup is simple. Copy the URL to each experience from the share button, and add it in the Top Bar Buttons tab of your account page in the Concept3D CMS. You can add multiple experiences to a single group to create the dropdown situation explained above.
BONUS: Take Control of Your Move-In Narrative Through Your Interactive Map
So far, the focus of this post has been on the core move-in experience for students and families of students returning to campus. But while that should be the core focus with the all-important start of the fall semester fast approaching, it’s far from your only optimization opportunity.
Through your interactive map, you can truly take control of the narrative you want your audience to experience during the big day. Examples include:
- Sharing preferred lodging options for families, as Texas A&M University did when highlighting its on-campus event in a brochure-like interactive map location.
- Sharing traffic and transportation information, like Wake Forest University’s live traffic integration and shuttle drop-off locations.
- Secondary but still crucial campus location, like Texas A&M’s highlight of recycling stations to reduce waste on campus.
- Important ADA and accessibility information that Michigan Tech highlights around the year, but takes on special importance during move-in activities.
And those are only some examples. The key is leveraging existing locations within your map in a way that directly relates to move-in, guiding your audience through a curated and straightforward, positive experience.
Ready for a More Interactive, Streamlined Move-In Experience?
As stressful as Move-In Day can be for universities and students alike, it also offers a significant opportunity. Here’s your chance to make a great first impression on students returning after a long summer, getting the fall semester started on the right foot through easily accessible, linear, and straightforward information.
Of course, you still need the right platform by your side to make that happen. We’ve highlighted the features, possibilities, and benefits of Concept3D throughout this post, and have plenty of case studies to show just how universities across the country are using our platform to make their move-in experiences a success. Ready to learn more? Contact us to get started.