Tour Guides. Student Ambassadors. Experts in Walking Backwards. Whatever you call them; they can make or break a prospective family’s visit experience. Is being a tour guide a premium job on your campus? It should be.
While it isn’t necessary to give them all matching polo shirts (although this can save discussions about inappropriate attire), here are essential elements of a successful tour guide program:
- A selective nomination and interview process: solicit nominations from faculty and other staff that know the students best, have applicants give a brief mock tour, and include current tour guides in the interview and selection process.
- A robust training program, including: shadowing experienced tour guides, conducting supervised tours until approved to go solo, regular updates from academic departments, and inclusion in admission staff meetings.
- Rewarding and recognizing their efforts: share positive feedback from families, recognize their special skill with higher than average student worker pay, and thank them publically; treat them like valued employees.
Like any resource, a quality tour guide program requires investment. A cadre of exceptional ambassadors with a strong esprit de corps is worth the effort – we hear time and time again in student focus groups that the deal maker (or breaker) in the decision of where to enroll was the tour. And this investment can continue to pay dividends even after they graduate, tour guides turn into young alums that are fully trained to help with recruitment. Make sure your tour guide program is putting your institution’s best foot forward (or is it backward?).
If being a tour guide is THE job to have on campus, you’ll know you’re there.
Image © iStockphoto.
About the author: Enrollment Management Consultant Jennifer Wick joined the Scannell & Kurz team in May 2011. She manages the Financial Aid Strategy Tool (FAST) and provides consulting on a wide range of enrollment management topics from admissions to retention.
Jennifer comes to S&K from Clarkson University where she served for nine years as Director of New Student Financial Assistance. Her experience encompasses both financial aid and admissions responsibilities, specializing in balancing financial aid strategies with enrollment targets and retention concerns. She has conducted enrollment data analysis, managed regional territories, and created successful financial aid strategies for targeted demographics. In addition, Jennifer has a keen interest in retention, which includes predictive model development to identify at-risk first-year students.
Jennifer earned a B.S. and M.S. in Physics, both from Clarkson University. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.