Students at Lenoir-Rhyne University spend time and money at local retail establishments. To show appreciation for retailers, the university recently asked students to name their favorite places, events and experiences in the Hickory area.
Through an online survey, Lenoir-Rhyne students, faculty and staff were asked to weigh in on everything from their favorite places to eat pizza, breakfast or wings to the best places for a date night, to get their cars fixed or to take their parents for dinner. About 400 people, primarily students, responded.
The survey included 25 questions about things to do, places to eat and places to shop – basically, where students and staff spend their time and money – in the Hickory area. Another 20 questions addressed their favorite places, events and experiences on campus. The questions were open-ended, asking respondents to list their top three favorites in each category.
A broad spectrum of services and products were included in the survey, ranging from the best places to eat ice cream or drink coffee and the best sandwich shop to the best local musician and the best hotel for parents to stay in. On campus, students were asked to list their top three favorites in a variety of categories including the best place to meet new people on campus, their favorite dining hall meals, the best place to work on campus and the best senior-year experience.
The purpose of the survey was to acknowledge the relationship the university has with the city of Hickory and Catawba County and to show that the university values that relationship, according to Mike Langford, university director of marketing. The services and products the winning businesses provide to the Lenoir-Rhyne community were judged to be “superior and worthy of receiving distinction,” according to the school.
The university’s marketing department recently published the survey results, Best of LR 2012,online and as a printed tabloid. The tabloid will be available at the retailers that received the top rankings in each category and on campus. The online version lists the winner in each category, while the tabloid version lists the top three winners in each category.
As a way to honor the businesses, the university will provide winners in each category window decals and certificates for framing recognizing them as the “Best of LR.”
The “Best of LR 2012” also will serve as a guide for new students. The university plans to update the results with another survey in April that will be compiled as “Best of LR 2013.” Langford said the 2013 survey will be expanded to include the university’s other two campuses: the Center for Graduate Studies in Asheville and Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbia, S.C.
The survey results have stirred up a lot of interest among Hickory area retailers, according to Langford.
“It’s starting to open up a lot of possibilities. Businesses are calling and offering to offer discounts for students. They are saying, ‘Hey, what can we do so that students will appreciate us?’ And ‘We want to do more than we are already doing for students,’ ” said Langford.
Some area businesses already offer discounts for students, but Langford said the survey has increased interest among businesses.
“That says something about Hickory and the surrounding area: They appreciate L-R and what it brings to the community. We have a lot of students who come here from other states like upstate New York, and this is their home for four years or more, and a lot of our alumni stay here after they graduate,” Langford said.