Meeting Planners Exchange Hotel Rooms for College Dorms

There are nearly 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics — and a growing number will be offering lodging and meeting space for groups this summer.

In an article published yesterday, USA Today said adult demand for on-campus accommodations is increasing thanks to the low cost and high convenience of college venues.

Chuck Salem, president of Unique Venues — operator of, a website that connects meeting planners with distinctive meeting spaces — told the paper that meeting planners' requests for proposals for the schools his company represents grew by 90 percent between 2009 and 2010. The company's roster of college clients, meanwhile, grew from 140 in 1988 to 354 last year.

To capitalize on this emerging trend, Salem said, many colleges and universities are now thinking about adult seasonal guests when upgrading their dormitories and meeting spaces, and when they're designing new buildings.

According to USA Today, examples of schools pursuing summer groups are: Wagner College on Staten Island, N.Y., which opened a new dormitory last year that will offer "apartment-style living" for non-student adult groups from late May until August; Florida Gulf University, which is planning to hire a full-time conference coordinator to solicit groups, reserve dorm rooms and coordinate catering; and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., which is upgrading one of its residence halls so that it can accommodate groups beginning in summer 2013.