Working in the college market has its fair share of surprises. After a successful concert at an Arkansas college a few years ago, I was casually waiting for my airport shuttle at the campus hotel. While enjoying the early morning silence, I heard some noise coming from the trash bin six inches to my left.  As I leaned in to look inside, I came face to snout with a racoon, carrying a full slice of pizza in his mouth! After reeling backwards in shock, I laughed and was able to grab my phone quickly enough to get his mug shot (evidence below).

raccoon-with-pizzaThat racoon hit the jackpot! I bet he frequented that garbage can because he knew there would be regular opportunities for free food. What can we learn from this? Free food attracts people (…and animals).

“If you feed them, they will come.”

It’s an unspoken rule in campus activities that free food increases attendance. You don’t have to be proud of it, but know that it’s a fact. If someone is deciding whether or not to participate, free food can often sway them in the right direction.  Don’t feed everyone attending your event, but consider it in the following circumstances:  

1.Committee Meetings – if you have trouble getting your committee to attend meetings, offer snacks, coffee, tea, or even candy (put it in a piñata if you really want to make it interesting).  

2.Marketing – students are more likely to take a flier if there is free candy taped to it. They’re also more likely to share an event on social media if they have the chance to win restaurant gift certificates.   

3.Your ticket onsale – make it an event itself! One school goes as far as hosting an all-night party leading into the morning of their ticket onsale. They provide hot chocolate all night, and donuts and coffee in the morning.  Students sleep in tents and on blankets as they wait in a line that curves throughout the entire campus.  It has become a well-known event on their campus, and over 1,500 students participated last year.

4.Attracting volunteers – please feed your volunteers. Feeding a group of students is much less expensive than paying them an hourly wage. Many schools even provide full catering for their volunteers. Good, healthy, quality food is a huge perk!

5.Keeping volunteers – offer free pizza… after clean-up is finished. You can also offer them any leftover hospitality that didn’t get eaten by the performers.

6.To encourage long-term engagement – reward the volunteers that logged the most hours throughout an academic year by taking them out to eat.

Get creative – pizza is always a hit, but consider an ice cream social, pancakes, pasta bar, pita party, salad bar, corn roast, or tacos. Order from a unique local restaurant instead of a chain restaurant. Switching up the freebies can attract new people to your events… and new wildlife to your trash bins.  

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]