Three young people eating and laughing

3 Successful Strategies to Boost Campus Dining Satisfaction and Revenue

Published on : 5/3/23
  • As universities in Canada continue to adapt to changing demographics, Gen Z students are becoming an increasingly important segment of the student population. Born between 1997 and 2012, this tech-savvy generation has unique expectations and preferences when it comes to their campus experience, including their dining options. 

    Gen Z students are seeking options that cater to their diverse tastes and lifestyles, as well as a campus community that fosters inclusivity and belonging.

    It is crucial for universities to consider students' satisfaction with the variety and quality of food options when improving campus food services. Students who are satisfied with the food options are more likely to have positive experiences on campus, which can contribute to their overall satisfaction and retention.

    Campus dining has evolved from a requirement to an experience that distinguishes universities in recent years. The intangible benefits of a good dining program are as important as food and labour costs when choosing a food service provider. The quality of the overall campus experience plays a vital role in keeping students involved, engaged and satisfied.

    So how do we do this at Sodexo Campus Canada? 

    We deploy a comprehensive food service strategy. 

    Marketing initiatives foster a campus community while also boosting traffic, and sales through innovative ideas. We drive customer satisfaction and engagement by understanding the industry, national and regional trends and applying them to a campus context. Your campus context.

    Here are three effective strategies that we use to enhance campus dining experiences and drive revenue.

    1. We Introduce Interactive Dining Experiences

    The most successful resident and retail dining programs are built on a foundation of exceptional and memorable dining experiences that create food memories and help build campus traditions. Some of these experiences include hosting themed meals and events at our dining halls; monotony breakers such as pop-up events, premium dining and catering experiences; and inviting high-profile guests and international chefs to interact with students and guests.

    Success Story 

    At one university, we have seen an increase in student engagement and sales after deploying active marketing promotions. 

    Our campus dining program has achieved impressive sales growth by leveraging strategic promotions and marketing campaigns, including our recurring Meatless Monday promotion which drove a sales increase of 117.5% at our retail units in the last year. 

    To further enhance the dining experience and promote community engagement, we've introduced cultural dining events such as the Global Chef dinner series, resulting in a 10% increase in customer participation. 

    Sodexo's Global Chef program brings in world-renowned chefs to engage with students, faculty, and staff through private menu-tasting events. Our most recent visit was from Chef Michael Smith, representing Texas Christian University. During the event, he served an array of globally inspired dishes to 945 attendees, showcasing the true meaning of "Global Chef."

    These events have fostered collaborations between Sodexo and various student groups while monotony breakers have helped maintain customer satisfaction and engagement.

    2. We Look Beyond Traditional Offers

    Our campus dining program has recognized the importance of looking beyond traditional offers to increase sales and engagement among our campus community. By offering innovative ideas that go beyond traditional meal plans, we've been able to significantly increase our sales and drive participation among students, faculty, and staff.

    Success Story

    One university we provide food services for has been successful at leveraging the university’s dedicated food service website, SodexoMyWay.

    Our Gifts from Home program is an e-commerce platform that allows parents to send personalized gift baskets, customized cookies and cakes and even grocery items to students on campus. Through active marketing promotions, we've seen an 11.5% increase in sales during the last year. 

    In addition, the dining program has successfully achieved a remarkable 339% increase in sales at our campus retail units during the winter holiday season by implementing active marketing promotions and campaigns, including the popular Holidays-To-Go promotion.

    By continually developing and executing innovative marketing strategies, we aim to drive participation, inspire community engagement with the latest technologies, and revenue in our campus dining program while also providing convenient and personalized options to our community.

    3. We Leverage Social Media

    Social media is a powerful tool that allows us to connect with our audience and understand their needs better. With platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, we can create hyper-targeted marketing strategies to improve engagement and foster innovation in our campus dining programs. 

    Success Story

    For a recent account opening at a university in Ontario where we transitioned from a self-operated dining program to Sodexo, we leveraged the power of social media by creating an Instagram page. This allowed us to reach a wider audience and engage with students, faculty, staff, and parents through a platform that is easily accessible and widely used. The page has been successful, with an engagement rate of 19.28% and a month-to-month growth in followers of 50%. Our total reach has been over 1,000 accounts, allowing us to connect with a wider audience and promote new menu offerings, wellness programs, and special events.

    The campus dining experience plays a crucial role in shaping the overall campus culture and has the potential to drive significant revenue. To be successful, providers must prioritize quality, affordability, and convenience while tailoring their offerings to the unique needs and preferences of the local student community. 

    Implementing these three strategies can create a positive campus experience that attracts and retains students, and helps universities compete in a changing landscape.

    Looking to drive engagement on your university campus? Reach out.