College reunions are a great way for schools to stay connected with alumni; they bring together old friends and classmates to catch up, reminisce, and find out what everyone has been up to lately. Many reunions are held at the ol’ alma mater, and others at local restaurants or function halls. No matter when or where reunions are held, they involve a lot of alumni converging to connect, network, and have fun.
While the recent grads may have used smartphones throughout their college tenures, even alumni who once had to split their dorm room landline bill or even use the hall phone, have entered the smartphone age, with nearly two-thirds of Americans now owning smartphones. When it comes time to get everyone together, what better way to coordinate than through a mobile app for reunion?
Mobile apps are an excellent information hub and communication tool. They serve up only the most relevant content and can be easily updated in real-time. This means alumni don’t need to dig through pages of a mobile-optimized website or worse yet, a website that isn’t optimized, to find the information they need. Apps also provide rich-media content such as photos, videos, or social media integration, and they can access mobile device features such as GPS for mapping and directions, and push notifications for instant communication.
Here are some ideas to make a successful reunion app:
- Event Details
Perhaps the most critical element of your app – when and where is the event taking place? Provide a link to a calendar file to enable attendees to add the event to their device’s calendar. Deep link the event locations or the reunion headquarters to a map module that can provide directions to and from airports, hotels, or home.
- Travel Info
Alumni are likely spread out across the globe and will need to travel back to campus for reunion. Include travel information such as nearby airports and hotels, hotel room block details, on-campus housing options, and shuttle schedules or other transit suggestions.
- Schedule of Events
The schedule of events can be created within the app, or can pull on an existing calendar data feed. With either method, if any times or locations change, for instance due to inclement weather, it’s easy to update the information in the app real-time. Include every event from a Welcome Dinner to special talks. From the schedule of events, deep link to a map so attendees can easily find where they are going with just a tap.
It’s amazing how much campuses can change (or how memories fade) in just a few short years. Outdoor maps can give an overview of campus, highlight key locations, and even provide pathfinding directions between buildings. Indoor maps can show various rooms and amenities inside buildings. Highlight elevators, water fountains, restrooms, or accessible areas.
- Parking Details
Provide specific directions or even custom maps to the locations where everyone should be parking. Using some additional technology, it’s even possible to include parking availability information within the app.
- Collect RSVP’s Within the App
Integrate with various event management tools, such as Eventbrite or Cvent, and allow people to register using the app itself.
Planning any outside portions of your program? Include a weather forecast module within the app. Additionally, create a “rain plan” module with details on the location and schedule of events in case of inclement weather.
- Use Push Notifications and In-App Banners
Messaging in your mobile app keeps everyone up-to-date and excited. Send push notifications or use in-app banners preceding scheduled events as a heads up that they’re beginning shortly, or in case of a schedule or location change. When users tap on the notification, it can link to more information, a schedule, or a map.
- News, Social, and Photos
The spirit of the event is captured through social media channels and it’s easy to incorporate existing news, video, social media, or photo feeds into the app through simple data integration. Create a hashtag just for reunion.
- Directory of Alumni/Attendees
Everyone wants to know who’s coming to the reunion. A directory can be used to connect before, during, and after the event and can include details on “where they are now.”
- Class Gift/Donation Opportunities
Reunions are a time when alumni can reflect on all of the positive experiences they had as an undergrad. Include ways to donate in the reunion app to make it easy for anyone looking to contribute.
Include any additional info that will make your reunion run smoothly or answer any questions, such as FAQs, info on childcare options, lists of local restaurants, or any other info that makes your reunion special.
An app for reunion can exist as a standalone app or as a module within the alumni version of a main campus app. The important thing is to make sure that all attendees download it. Promote the app on the reunion website, alumni Facebook pages, in the alumni magazine, and on paper invitations.
In the past, mobile projects could be cumbersome and time consuming and it was virtually impossible for non-technical staff to quickly create apps for the many different events on their campus. Today, using no-code app development platforms it’s easy for anyone on campus to quickly create mobile apps for any campus event, like reunion.
The connection continues…
Although reunion itself may last for just a weekend or a single night, a mobile app encourages alumni to stay connected long after the event itself is over. If you have an alumni module or Persona in your campus app, be sure to direct reunion attendees there afterwards with a linked Push Notification or Banner Message.