Do you have a college or university in or near your district? Do your local businesses benefit from student spending? My friend and colleague Anthony Capese, Executive Director of the Albany Central Avenue BID, is taking proactive steps to ensure that students become loyal customers. After holding “nearly 20 focus groups with students”, Capese noted that “they simply didn’t know, and rarely found a reason to venture off of campus.” The challenge of attracting student customers is certainly not unique to his district.

His efforts, however, are a great best practice for BID’s. For a few years now, the Central Avenue BID has spearheaded a “SUNY SHOWCASE” event (SUNY = State University of New York) during student orientation that offered RA’s (resident advisors) information about downtown retail and service offerings. The idea is that RA’s are in the best position to pass this information along to their students. Nearly 200 RA’s and student staff participated this past August, taking Aqua Duck Trolley Tours through the District, ending at a afternoon-long party at a local hotel, replete with Foosball tournaments, video games, artists, and giveaways.

For more information on the program, click here for an article written on the CABID blog.

Now is a great time to start putting out feelers to your local schools to see how you can leverage student orientation to your district’s benefit.