Cal Poly Corporation hosts VIP experience to create positive impression of its commercial services

How the Corporation broke the mold by building an engaging, “info-taining” experience with nine activations and 20 “straight from the horse’s mouth” ambassadors.

Kara’s Role – Creative/Art Director, Executive Producer, Event & UX Design

Current Situation

Cal Poly State University holds an Open House Resource Fair event each year where admitted students visit the campus to finalize their decision on which college to attend. Cal Poly Corporation (a non-profit auxiliary of the university) has several commercial services which participate, including a university bookstore, print and copy store and over 25 dining venues. Amenities and lifestyle are significant deciding factors for some students. Common fears are high textbook prices, lack of healthful and varied dining options and how to budget with their on their dining plan. The Corporation’s role is to aid Cal Poly’s acquisition effort while also creating a lasting first impression. The other groups presenting at this event typically use standard pop-up tent booths with ambassadors handing out brochures behind a table.    


To make a positive first impression, build trust, and demonstrate how the commercial services support student success, the Corporation broke the mold by building an engaging, “info-taining” experience with nine activations. The Corporation trained 20 student ambassadors to provide the admitted students with authentic information, “straight from the horse’s mouth” (as indicated by their gold t-shirts and fanny packs). The experience showcased the commercial services in tandem with providing attendees with relief from the elements: hot weather, information overload and long uphill walks across campus. Rather than being situated among the parade of booths, the experience was built in Campus Dining’s atrium, which provided shade from heat. Attendees could sample the menu while on a tour with the executive chefs and registered dietitian, do a scavenger hunt of textbook stacks demonstrating competitive prices and the rental program, play outdoor Jenga and Connect 4, relax in a lounge, charge their smartphone, enter to win a prizes and take home a souvenir photo booth image from the print and copy store.



78% of attendees participated in an activation at the Corporation’s experience

25% of attendees subscribed to the Corporation’s email communications

69% open rate on post-event email, which included link to download photos and view online look book

24% if attendees left with the Corporation’s 32-page magazine and dining plan contract

VP/Director of Marketing & Communications: Ellen Curtis
Developer: Lauren Barker
Senior Designer & Production Support: Nikki Hamzaeff
Student Support: Morgan Gutierrez, Brittin Burnworth, Julia Pini, Sophia Liu, Dani Orlandi, Ryan Drobny, Britney Tesmer

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