Well, that’s freshers’ fairs done for another year and time to hang up our hats – all of them – and catch up with the day job!
Students represent a very important market to Arriva, and with many unable to drive or not allowed to take cars to university, it is vital we get our buses and ticketing offers spot on for them.
Our colleagues in the regional bus companies have years of experience behind them in getting this bit right so, that done, the key then is getting the message across. Talking to freshers – the new, first-year students – is completely different from attracting the attention of the more seasoned ‘old hands’ in subsequent years, and we use a variety of channels to reach them.
For the new starters emails through UCAS – the body that manages university admissions – are important, as we’re able to be there shortly after they get their offers of places, when the mind-set is about preparing for the major life-change and the parental bank account is on hand for such eventualities. This is reinforced by more traditional media advertising at the universities where we are key providers of bus services, plus online and social media activity.
Attendance at the freshers’ fairs can cement the relationship between Arriva and its future student customers. Typically these events are organised by the student unions and provide a platform for student clubs and societies and external suppliers to engage with the young people, hopefully win their interest and put a human face to an otherwise potentially faceless body. Our neighbouring stalls at the various events attended demonstrate the diversity of the messaging bombarding the new students – we’ve been sandwiched between the Chess Society and a variety of religious and lifestyle groups, a burrito outlet and a well-known alcopop brand!
This year our online campaign invited students to ‘Win a Round the World Trip for two people’ – a simple prize draw mechanic with a startlingly attractive prize. Complementing this theme on social media students were invited to share photographs of themselves wearing stereo-typical hats representing nationalities from around the world on Twitter and Instagram with a #DestinationArriva hashtag. Winners were selected to receive prizes drawn from a £10,000 prize pot including things like iPods, designer sunglasses, designer swimwear, Go-Pro cameras, shopping trips, and similar rewards attractive to the target audience. Canvassing entries provided the main hook at the freshers’ fair events, both as a conversation opener and a highly visual spectacular to attract attention in a sea of special offers and wacky promotions! Take-up was excellent and we are looking forward to a good return on investment for the campaign.