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Student Opinions on Lighthouse Tavern Communications Research Submitted to: Dr. Barbara Miller May 6, 2008

Jenna Hill Jenna Levy Megan Kirkpatrick Cory Morrison Michelle Serra

Students’ Opinions on Lighthouse Tavern Survey Report Evaluation Goals and Objectives a. Background: Elon University Administration recently purchased the off campus bar, Lighthouse Tavern. Dr. Smith Jackson, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, requested that Communications Research classes, taught by Dr. Barbara Miller, conduct research analyzing how the Elon student body would like to see the space used upon reopening in the fall of 2008. The objective of this research was to provide help to the Elon administration in order for them to successfully reopen the facility in the fall. b. Research Questions and Hypothesis: In order to achieve the research objective, the group formulated the following research questions. • • • • • • •

What types of food would appeal to the student body and why? What types of music would appeal to the student body and why? What types of beverages would appeal to the student body and why? What sort of atmosphere would appeal to the student body and why? What types of operational policies would appeal to the student body and why? What kinds of promotional events would appeal to the student body and why? What kind of policies should be in place for student organizations interested in renting the new facility?

These research questions were designed to cover a broad range of aspects that pertain to the new facility. These aspects, or areas of interest, were chosen because they deal with what is necessary in order for the administration to provide a successful social space for students. Methodology a. Sampling Plan: The study population consisted of 362 male and 571 female students. The total study population was 933 Elon Students. The students ranged from freshman students through graduate students. Students were invited to take a web-based survey via email. The sampling frame used by the group included the entire undergraduate and graduate student body. The sampling process used in this survey was random sampling. Each student in the undergraduate and graduate schools had an equal chance of being chosen. 1,500 student email addresses were chosen at random and emails were sent to those students on three different dates: April 16, 2008 all 1,500 students received the email. Follow up emails were sent in groups of 300 April 18 – 22, 2008 and April 23, 2008. There


were complications with the survey the first time the email was sent out. Due to the overwhelming amount of responses, the site became clogged and the survey eventually shut itself down. When taking the survey, the participants did not always answer every question. Because of this, the confidence intervals ranged throughout the survey from ± 3.21 to ± 11.32 at a 95% confidence level depending on the number of respondents per question. The specific confidence intervals will be noted with regards to their questions as they are mentioned throughout the report. All the confidence intervals mentioned were calculated at a 95% confidence level. b. Questionnaire Administration Plan The random sample of students was obtained through campus technology. With the help of the administration, Dr. Miller was able to obtain 1.500 random email addresses to send the email to. Despite the fact that students received multiple emails asking or reminding them to take the survey, each student was only able to take the survey one time. Multiple emails were sent in order to increase response rate. Other measures taken to increase response rate included: using the email address as the sender of the email, having a subject line of: The future of The Lighthouse depends on you and including a brief backgrounder at the top of the email explaining that it was an official email from the administration. Data Analysis / Detailed Findings Potential Beverage Service When it came to the potential beverage service, the most important thing to the student body was that the new facility serves alcohol. Question 25 asked the students to rank from 1 to 5 beverage options including: alcoholic beverages, coffee, energy drinks, smoothies, and soft drinks. A score of 1 was the most preferred drink choice and a score of 5 was the least preferred drink choice. Alcohol was the most preferred drink choice with a score of 1.5. The confidence interval for this question was ± 3.99. When asked what alcoholic beverages students preferred, most 90% of the respondents said they would like to see either domestic or imported beer in the bar. Wine was the second most selected beverage. The confidence interval for this question was ± 4.12. 61% of the 289 students who answered the open question 27, which asked which aspect o the beverage service was the most important to then, mentioned the words beer, alcohol, or bar as the most important establishment. The confidence level for this question was ± 5.78. These findings show that students would like to see the facility turned into a new bar. They would like another place to go that serves alcoholic beverages. The are not looking for a coffee bar or somewhere to get energy drinks, both of which had the lowest score of 3.6 for question 25. Along with another place to go and socialize, students are also looking for somewhere inexpensive to hang out. 45 of the respondents for question 27 mentioned that they were looking for cheap drinks that were inexpensive and not overpriced. Students at Elon are looking to go out, have a good time, but not break the bank. Their main priorities are having reasonably priced alcoholic beverages at the new bar. Atmosphere Atmosphere was something that students cared a lot about. 80 of the 217 students who answered question 32 asking which aspect of the lighthouse was the most important to


students, said that they wanted a bar / pub like atmosphere, or they wanted a relaxed, comfortable, trendy atmosphere. The confidence level was ± 6.65. This response from question 32 was also shown with question number 28. When asked what features would cause students to frequent the lighthouse having a pub style atmosphere was the second highest chosen reason. The first, by one more vote, was an outdoor patio. The confidence levels were both ± 4.08. The student body considered the sound system to be the most important building feature in the new bar (± 4.1). The second most important feature was the outdoor patio. The student body wants a very relaxed environment in the new bar. They would like to see a typical bar or pub like atmosphere with a good sound system and an outdoor patio. They would like a casual relaxed place to hang out. They don’t need anything too fancy, or different. Food Service Students have indicated that food is an important part of the services offered by the new Lighthouse facility, with 85% of survey respondents indicating they want food served. However, Lighthouse is viewed as a late-night establishment, with 92% of students saying they want late night food service and only 59% indicating they would go to Lighthouse for lunch. In a separate question, students were asked what aspect of food service is more important. Answers varied, with 12% saying that the hours of the establishment were important a d 17% saying that the quality of the food was most important. The biggest debate is the service of Aramark food at Lighthouse. Students have shown that they want to use their meal plans and Phoenix Cash to purchase food, however they are 72% unlikely or very unlikely to frequent Lighthouse if Aramark is the food service provider. Students said that the “quality” or “taste” of the food was the biggest reason, almost 37% saying that Aramark food was “bad.” The second reason was the request for variety; almost 40% of respondents said that Aramark food is “everywhere” and “all over campus,” so it is time for a change. This indicates that variety and quality food are most important reasons for not choosing Aramark as the food provider, and service is the least important since only 3% of respondents indicated any response concerning service.


The Lighthouse Tavern Research Project Pt. 2/2 - Student Opinions on Lighthouse