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By The Auxiliary Services Team

It’s been seven months since Chartwells Higher Education took over the reins as the dining service provider for the University of Houston System.

With one semester now under its belt, Chartwells will be taking a hard look at the future of the dining program here at the UH campus by coming up with a five-year vision plan. The mission of the plan is simple: Evaluate UH’s current program and create a report detailing the shared vision for the future.

Data to be collected

The official campus kickoff for the vision plan is Jan. 30. On that day, the planning process will be reviewed for campus stakeholders, letting them know what they should expect.

In the coming weeks, all sorts of data will be accumulated. Campus demographic data will be updated. Culinary dining trends will be studied. Generational dining trends will be gathered. Technology trends in dining service will be updated.

There will also be a whole slew of on-campus data being amassed. That will include an analysis of all the current dining facilities. A review of the current infrastructure from the standpoint of capacity, location and overall condition will be completed.

Students will play key role

Dining Master Plan - We want your opinionSurvey takers armed with tablets will be out and about at various locations around campus – including dining locations and high traffic areas – asking students and others questions about campus dining. They will be picking students’ brains and finding out what they like, don’t like, what they want, what they don’t want.

Various student groups will be invited to take part in focus groups. In addition, informational tables will be set up in residential buildings and the dining commons where students and other guests can provide valuable feedback.

This massive data collection effort will be analyzed and compared with previous surveys that already have taken place, including the customer satisfaction survey Chartwells completed in the fall that had nearly 2,200 responses.

In addition, a campus neighborhood analysis will be conducted, in which various areas of campus are analyzed. Chartwells’ Neighborhoods market research tool analyzes campus demographics, traffic patterns and current market share of existing locations, enabling them to pinpoint the appropriate brand/concept mix for a campus neighborhood based on the population living and working in each district area of campus.

The end result

Once all of the data has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb and analyzed inside and out, it will be used to help Chartwells form specific recommendations for its vision of dining.

The plan will recommend specific dining concepts and brands, new locations across campus where dining outlets can be added to serve the campus community, and how existing locations can be refreshed and updated. It will also include cost estimates for achieving the new dining vision, expected revenue, and changes for improving the residential dining program.

For example: Have you been wondering what will replace the former Chinese Star property on Calhoun across from University Lofts? The plan will include a vision for how to best utilize it for the dining program.

It is anticipated that a finished plan will be completed later in the spring. We expect it will include some exciting recommendations and ideas for campus. Stay tuned!


posted: Friday, Jan. 26, 2018