Managing an Event Calendar Without the Help from IT

Case Study of Localist Events for Hope College

View the Events Calendar

‍”We’ve always had these events, but now we have a user-friendly platform to showcase them. Localist Events automates many of Marketing’s and IT’s tasks. This allows our staff to be hands off while we drive people to our events from Google, social media, and our website.”

Jason Cash
Director of Web Communications, Hope College

The bottom line

Hope College finds Localist Events so easy to use that the marketing team manages its calendar without the help from IT.

The challenge: Centralizing several department calendars into one

Hope College has a vibrant campus with 3,407 undergraduates, 80+ student groups and daily events.

However, the college’s master web calendar didn’t get people excited about these events.

Departments created their own event listings, such as Google calendars or downloadable PDFs, resulting in several independent event calendars. Since listings were buried in department web pages, people couldn’t easily find out what was happening on campus.

The Public Affairs and Marketing department wanted a centralized, user-friendly calendar but had to wait until they had the resources to look into other options. The opportunity came when Hope College overhauled its website and centralized all of its information into a single content management system

“The calendar was static and only showed basic event details,” said Jason Cash, director of web communications at Hope College. “Because the calendar wasn’t dynamic, people didn’t look at it or share the events on it.”

Mockup of a cellphone with Hope College's Event Calendar

Discovery: Finding a flexible events calendar platform

Hope College looked into a number of event calendars, but most of them were variations of their existing calendar.

Jason heard about Localist Events at conferences and through online recommendations. Hope College’s marketing agency, EM2, also recommended Localist Events, as they had successfully used it with their other higher education clients.

‍”In higher education, you perk up once you hear someone’s name a few times. Localist Events was the only platform that could fully integrate with our website’s brand. Matching our calendar to our new website was crucial to us.”

Jason Cash
Director of Web Communications, Hope College

Implementation: Creating a calendar to match Hope’s website

Step 1: Getting buy-in

Jason started by getting buy-in from the Public Affairs and Marketing department. Then he worked with two key players:

  • The IT department, who would help implement Localist Events.
  • The Events and Conferences team, who are the biggest players on campus for hosting events.

Step 2: Designing a custom template

Localist Events worked with Hope College’s web design agency to create a custom template that perfectly matched the new website. They used a combination of custom CSS, Javascript, and the Localist Theme Editor to integrate the new website with the events calendar.

“Localist Events was very responsive in working with our design agency,” said Jason. “Their collaboration was seamless.”

‍”I was skeptical that the template would exactly match the new site. But Localist Events gave us a lot of flexibility in customizing the look and feel of our calendar. When end users click between the website and the events calendar, they have no idea that they are on a completely different platform.”

Jason Cash
Director of Web Communications, Hope College

Step 3: Building custom integrations

Hope College integrated Localist Events with its room reservation system, EMS. To do this, the Hope IT team developed a feed from EMS to Localist Events. Now, when a staff member books a room, he or she can check a box to display the correlating event on Hope College’s public calendar. Then, the event goes into the queue for approval.

“Localist Events made it very easy to plug our EMS feed into our pending events queue,” said Jason.

Localist Events also worked with Hope’s IT team to enable single sign-on, which allows students to log in to the calendar using their Hope College email address. This makes it easy for students to engage with events and for Jason to track logins. Students can also log in through their Facebook account and share events with their friends on social media.

Step 4: Ensuring events reach the right audience

Hope College relies on the Localist Events API to send calendar feeds to different parts of its website, such as its home page and individual department pages. This makes it easier for visitors to find relevant events. For example, the Hope College team tags events for specific departments. These events appear on a widget on the department’s home page and are automatically updated when the event ends.

“Localist Event’s API has been a very powerful tool for us,” said Jason. “It allows us to be hands off, as it automatically showcases the right events on the right pages.”

Laptop Mockup of Hope College's Events Calendar

Marketing can manage events with minimal IT support

The Hope College team finds Localist Events so easy to use that the Public Affairs and Marketing team manages it without IT support. This frees up IT’s time, as they don’t need to handle day-to-day updates or provide technical support.

“One person on our team manages the events. When he went on vacation, we had to make last-minute changes to a major symposium,” said Jason. “The rest of our team had no problem using Localist Events to keep the public informed about these changes. On the rare occasion when we have a question, Localist Events support is always there to help us with it.”

Here are three ways Localist Events streamlined Hope College’s event management and reduces the IT team’s workload:

1. Makes it easy for users to post events.

In less than a year, Hope College has posted more than 2,000 events – a dramatic increase from the number of events listed in the old calendar.

‍”I’m amazed by how many more events are in the calendar. Being able to spread content throughout our site using Localist Event’s API has saved our departments tons of time, as they no longer need to add or remove event listings. Staff members have told me that Localist Events makes their lives much easier.”

Jason Cash
Director of Web Communications, Hope College

2. Provides event data

Hope College uses Localist’s Event Reach feature to ensure its events get to the right audience. Localist Events looks at audience awareness factors for each event, such as how many people view it and how discoverable it is on Google.

“The Event Reach feature allows our Public Affairs and Marketing division to easily view event data, without needing extra support to do so,” said Jason.

3. Drives engagement

Since launching Localist Events in August 2015, Hope College has seen strong numbers at many of its events. Localist Events helps boost attendance by providing a seamless user experience between Hope’s website and events calendar, while making it easy for people to buy tickets. The new calendar gets 1,500 more page views per month than the previous calendar.

Next Steps: Get all student groups represented on our calendar

Jason plans to meet with every student group this year and coach them on how to use Localist Events.

“Localist Events is hands down the best calendar platform out there,” said Jason. “We did our due diligence and looked at a number of options, and Localist Events had the best features by far. We would highly recommend that anyone consider Localist Events for their calendar needs.”

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