Explore U Event

Saturday, August 31, 2024, 1 - 4:30 p.m. at Huntington Bank Stadium

Student leaders posing with bingo cards at Explore U

Explore U is a great opportunity for local businesses and organizations to access incoming freshmen and incoming transfer students. Explore U is attended by over 4,000 new students and current student leaders. 

Vendor Registration

Registration for Explore U 2024 is now open! View form to register and see early bird incentives.

Please contact Rachel at [email protected] with questions.

Student Groups

Student Unions & Activities (SUA) will host opportunities for groups to virtually engage with incoming students at Explore U. Student groups should sign-up for Explore U directly with SUA.

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Vendor Guidelines

Explore U Vendor Guidelines 2024

Registration fees will be invoiced approximately two weeks prior to Explore U and must be paid prior to the event. If the fee/trade is not received before the event, OTE reserves the right to cancel that vendor’s registration.

Set Up & Staffing

  • All vendors must check in at the event between 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. on the day of the event; tables must be set up no later than 1 p.m.
  • All vendor tables will be assigned a location in the event venue by Orientation & Transition Experiences at its sole discretion.
  • Tables will not be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Vendor tables must be staffed at all times during the event by at least one representative of the vendor.
  • The University of Minnesota is a Drug-Free and Smoke-Free campus. Businesses and organizations promoting, selling, or distributing items prohibited on campus (whether or not legal in the State of Minnesota) are not allowed to participate in Explore U. The promotion, advertising, or distribution of alcoholic beverages, or promotion of the purchase or consumption of alcoholic beverages by vendors at the event is strictly prohibited.
  • Due to storage limitations, we are not able to accommodate vendors shipping materials either to the office of Orientation & Transition Experiences or the event venue before the event. All materials must be brought and removed by vendors on the day of the event.
  • University assistance with the transport of vendor materials from the loading dock to vendor tables will be available before the event. No assistance will be available after the event; vendors must remove remaining materials and products from the venue after the event without University assistance.

Electrical & Speaker Access

  • All vendor booths will have access to an electrical outlet. However, it is recommended to bring extension cords in the event an outlet is more than a few feet away.
  • All extension cords, power strips, or other electrical devices must be provided by the vendor and may not cross any pedestrian walking space.
  • In the event Orientation & Transition Experiences, the building manager, or a University building code official notifies a vendor that its electrical use is unsafe or not in compliance with applicable codes or building electrical capacity, that vendor will immediately discontinue such use.
  • Access to a loudspeaker will NOT be available to individual vendors during the event.

Displays, Giveaways, & Food Table

  • Displays and/or distributed printed materials must include the vendor’s business name and contact information.
  • The sale of goods or services, as well as the conduct of fundraising activities, is prohibited before, during, and after the event.
  • Distribution of promotional materials or “swag bags” is permitted as long as such materials complement the mission and vision of Welcome Week, Orientation & Transition Experiences, and comply with University of Minnesota policies and guidelines.
  • All materials to be distributed must be reviewed and approved by Orientation & Transition Experiences prior to the event. Orientation & Transition Experiences reserves the right to prohibit the distribution of any promotional materials or items in its sole discretion.
  • If a vendor wishes to donate additional prizes, vouchers for services, or gift certificates to further promote its business, they may do so by noting this on the registration form. 

The serving of food from vendor tables is permitted under the following conditions:

  • A University of Minnesota Food Permit is completed at least 15 days prior to the event.
  • This permit will be emailed to the vendor in August 2024 for completion.
  • The vendor is liable for the preparation, distribution, and clean-up of all food served at its vendor location.
  • The application form must specify what food will be served.
  • Electrical access is available at each booth, though you may need an extension cord; electrical needs must be included in the registration.
  • Vendor’s preparation, distribution, and clean-up of food are subject to the regulations and requirements of the University’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety. A copy of these guidelines will be provided to vendors by Orientation & Transition Experiences prior to the event.
  • Any beverage brought into the event must be a Coke product.
  • Any other beverages must get prior approval.
  • Kitchen facilities, including sinks or water access, are NOT available.

Prohibited Materials

  • The following materials are prohibited at the event:
    • Doorstops Candles & Incense (open flames of any kind)
    • Door-mounted Dry Erase Boards
    • Any alcohol-related paraphernalia such as bottle openers, can cozies, and nondescript plastic cups.
    • Any products distributed for medicinal or health purposes must be approved by Orientation & Transition Experiences prior to the event.

Orientation & Transition Experiences reserves the right to prohibit any products at its sole discretion.

All questions or concerns regarding appropriate promotional materials should be submitted to Orientation & Transition Experiences prior to placing an order for such materials.

Questions and concerns, including those regarding specific logistical needs, should be submitted to [email protected] prior to the submission of registration.
An additional email with loading areas, booth locations, and setup information will be sent after registration.

Pricing for Explore U

Gold Registration- $1,150

  • 1 table (8' by 3')
  • 2 chair
  • 1 tablecloth
  • Company logo featured on the jumbotron
  • Featured on the Explore U Passport (program to incentivize students to visit vendor table)

Maroon Registration- $600

  • 1 table (8' by 3')
  • 2 chairs
  • 1 tablecloth

Both Maroon and Gold Registrations allow access to over 4,000 first-year students, transfer students, and student leaders.


Additional Booth (Gold Level only)- $550 per table
  • 8’ by 3’ table
  • 2 chairs
  • 1 table cloth


You may pay for up to half of your registration fee with gift cards or new items that can be used for prizes at student events throughout the school year. If you wish to do this, please indicate items and their value on the registration form.

NEW in 2024: For restaurants/food establishments, we prefer a "credit" in lieu of gift cards so that we may use the credit for OTE events during the school year. This is due to a policy of students having to report prizes (such as gift cards) they receive which may inadvertently penalize their financial aid awards. Gift cards and prizes are still accepted as trade, but a business credit is preferred.  Please contact Rachel at [email protected] with any questions.

Marketing to Your Audience

The Opportunity

Students attending Explore U

Explore U is the opportunity for businesses to explore, interact, and connect with the Class of 2028 and incoming transfer students as they start their U of M experience! Students in the Class of 2028 belong to Generation Z and are known as Centennials. They will require the use of creativity, visuals, and swift actions in order to engage them. To connect with Centennial students one must expect emboldenment, anticipate empowerment, and invite them in.  Generation Z embraces living in the right now and enjoys sharing the world through their eyes (Courtesy of The Futures Company, 2015)

Two Key Ways to Market to College Students

  • Have a presence on social media! College students are highly influenced by their peers’ activity on social media sites. Almost half of college students with smartphones discovered brands from what their peers were liking, following or pinning on their social media accounts (Courtesy of eMarketer, 2015).
  • Be quick! Getting your point across in a fast and efficient manner is what college students are looking for. Attention spans are getting shorter and with so much going on around them, students are seeking to learn and understand in a speedy fashion.

How can YOU be a successful vendor at Explore U?

  • Have energy and be excited! If you aren’t excited about your business or service, the students won’t be either.  
  • Bring goodies! Whether that be food, a magnet, or a pen with your logo on it, students are more likely to remember your brand if they can connect it back to a product. 60% of generation Z would prefer a cool product or service over a cool experience (Courtesy of Contently, 2015)
  • Find a way to stand out- what makes you different from the other vendors? Last year there were over 75 vendors at Explore U!

What Students are Saying about Explore U

  • 96% of event goers say they would be more likely to purchase a product or service after attending the event.
  • In past surveys, 73% of students who attended Explore U said they plan to visit the businesses they learned about at the event.
  • Over 85% of students were introduced to new businesses in the campus community.