Improving Harper College’s Ability to Set Up and Manage Conferences

 

Who Does Harper CE serve? 

Harper’s Division of Workforce Solutions (Harper CE) serves working adults by offering professional development courses and credentials throughout the year. The division also hosts conferences on management, business and technology.

These conferences are typically targeted at students, professionals and people from diverse communities.

Harper Destiny One

CHALLENGE: STAFF INEFFICIENCY AND A POOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Conferences are events that occur over one or more days and feature specific tracks and optional sessions. These are  led by experienced speakers and panelists from varied backgrounds. There are many moving parts to running a conference. A lot of time and energy goes into defining the themes, identifying speakers, finding sponsors, arranging venues, managing pricing, marketing the conference and finally enrolling attendees. For Harper CE, the challenge was two-fold:

1. Staff were consumed by executing the ground work and they could not focus on value-adding activities such as engaging with speakers, establishing partnerships and defining the conference messaging. The division wanted to take steps that allowed for better management of the staff time.

2. The registration experience for conference attendees was not smooth. Attendees, whether students or working professionals, expect a seamless experience at every point of interaction with the school or college organizing a conference. The division was not able to provide a self-servicing experience to the attendees.

We needed a system that would reduce the amount of labor involved in hosting the conference by automating many of the processes that we were doing manually. At the same time, we wanted to improve the registration experience for the person attending the conference by giving them a more self-supported experienc.

Mark MrozinskiAssistant Vice President of Workforce Development and Executive Dean of Community Education, Harper College

SOLUTION: SIMPLER CONFERENCE MANAGEMENT AND REPORTING

1. Streamline how staff set up new conferences

Harper staff have to set up numerous conferences each year, each with different sessions, schedules and structures. Destiny One gives staff a convenient means to set up events and customize them according to their precise needs. It walks the conference designer through a simple wizard to configure the conference’s participants and to define multiple conference tracks and sessions (including invitation-only sessions), schedule them, and assign rooms and meeting space.
Academic or corporate, single or multiple days, Harper staff now have a repeatable means of efficiently creating as many new or different conferences as they want. 

2. Maximize profit with market-relevant offers and transparent reporting

Harper CE didn’t just want to run conferences; they wanted to increase enrollments and grow margins—and this means they need to meet market demands with personalized packages and upsells. 
Destiny One lets Harper staff offer different kinds of packages for regular attendees, speakers, and exhibitors, or for registrants who want to attend a single day versus the entire conference. It also supports promotional or early-bird discounts to entice budget-savvy prospects to sign up. Finally, it also lets Harper provide a superior experience for attendees while also bringing in as much revenue as possible with optional upsells such as premium sessions, add-on materials, or dinners or special events. 

Even if they are running a lucrative program, most colleges and universities struggle to get insight into conference financials. Destiny One’s built-in budget and expense worksheet gives Harper CE staff visibility into conference financials, so they can make projections and evaluate revenues and profits in real time.

3. Take registrations online with a full eCommerce experience for individuals or groups 

No matter how great a conference is, it won’t succeed if it doesn’t give prospective attendees an easy way to find information and sign up. The Destiny One Conference Manager offers a simple built-in editor so that staff can create customized and branded registration sites for each conference. It also lets staff brand conference receipts and emails so participants have a polished and consistent experience at every turn.

It’s also simple for learners to enroll completely online. They simply select a conference package, provide their information and pay with a secure credit card payment processor. Registered attendees can view the conference agenda and enroll themselves up for specific sessions in advance of the conference.  

If a corporation is sending multiple attendees, they can save time by using the group checkout to manage all of the registrations in one transaction, instead of trying to enroll learners one by one.

RESULT: BETTER STAFF MANAGEMENT AND CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT

Destiny One is allowing Harper CE to offer a better conference experience to learners, that is more efficient for staff to manage. Harper CE now has a conference program that engages prospects with market-leading ecommerce capabilities and that encourages them to enroll time and again. 

“As an online consumer myself, control and ease are what I expect,” Mrozinski said. “If a system allows me to register conveniently, intuitively—and without a screen that tells me I need to call the office—I’m  much more likely to use the service. Our nightmare scenario is having a system that’s cumbersome, because the student will go someplace else.”  

 
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