Year of Publication

2013

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Executive Summary

The University of Kentucky’s Campus Recreation department is currently operating without professional marketing personnel to promote the programs and services the facility offers. With the university expanding campus housing for incoming students, the question of how activity spaces will accommodate and reach out to these students is certainly one to consider.

I conducted this research with the aim of analyzing the importance of marketing in Campus Recreation facilities and to see if marketing efforts have an effect on facility usage by participants. The department began conducting surveys in 2010 to assess its programs and services in order to determine student satisfaction with the department’s facilities, equipment, and staff, to determine student usage of recreational facilities and programs, to identify barriers that discourage students from utilizing Campus Recreation programs and services, and to determine student attitudes towards the value of UK’s recreational facilities and programs.

In the fall of 2012, the department implemented its first efforts to market the facility by hiring a marketing intern. With regards to how students learned about what was happening in Campus Recreation, the 2012 survey results show an increase in the use of flyers as a good way for students to learn about campus recreation programs and services. However, word-of-mouth was still by far the way most students find out about campus recreation offerings. The results from the survey may be found in Appendix A. These findings led me to question:

Is there a correlation between having marketing personnel and facility usage?

Are universities comparable to the University of Kentucky utilizing marketing personnel to promote their facility?

How are marketing personnel organized at these universities?

What is the marketing budget for universities using marketing?

In general, I find that the University of Kentucky does display lower facility usage numbers than comparable universities. In addition to this observation, some major findings include:

  • Data collection methods for annual reports vary widely across universities and many lack proper organizational systems for obtaining participation numbers.
  • Universities that do have professional marketing staff and a positive marketing budget have a statistically significant impact on facility entries.
  • The organization of marketing departments and their budgets vary widely among universities.

Based on the findings, I make the following recommendations:

  • Campus Recreation departments should collect annual participation numbers so it can track its facility usage numbers throughout the years.
  • The University Kentucky’s Campus Recreation Department should hire a marketing professional to promote its facility to the thousands of new students who will be living on campus.
  • The department should go beyond social media efforts and flyers to reach the student population.
  • The department should strongly consider implementing a TPSI approach as an alternative to a conventional survey to identify how they can meet the current students’ needs, and prepare the university for the large amount of incoming students in the near future
  • The department should focus on increasing its participation numbers to help in the efforts of student retention.

On average, the University of Kentucky’s workout facility has roughly 2,500 participants a day. While this number looks good on paper, the university currently has over 28,000 students enrolled with a membership that is automatically included in their student fees. Thousands of students are not using the facility for one reason or another. The results of this research should allow the professional staff at the University of Kentucky’s Campus Recreation facility to determine if incorporating marketing personnel into their plans of growth would be beneficial to the department and to the students who utilize it. This, in turn, should help the University of Kentucky in their efforts to retain more students because of their knowledge and involvement with campus activities.

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