If JMU alumni stay at Hotel Madison, it could help students receive scholarships.
Hotel Madison is partnering with the JMU Alumni Association to form the JMU Alumni Club, a program that offers hotel discounts and special offers for alumni. Proceeds from the club go to the Alumni Association.
“It’s really the true meaning of a partnership,” Carrie Combs, director of Alumni Relations and executive director of the JMU Alumni Association, said. “We want to help them, and they want to help us, and really, together, we just want to provide an amazing service to alums.”
The club’s benefits include a 15% discount on standard daily Hotel Madison room rates and 10% off at Montpelier Restaurant — excluding alcohol — and the grace+main coffee shop in the hotel. Other perks include special access to JMU and Hotel Madison sponsored events at the hotel and Stash Hotel Rewards points on every stay. To receive these benefits, alumni must register through the JMU Alumni Club and book directly through the Hotel Madison website, not a third-party.
The Alumni Association receives $2 per room for every night a JMU Alumni Club member stays at Hotel Madison, which is independently owned but works in partnership with JMU. The money received will go toward connecting alumni around the country, professional development and career networking for students and alumni, philanthropy and student scholarships.
Recent graduates, degree holders from Madison College who graduated ’77 and earlier and those from any class in between are encouraged by the Alumni Association and Hotel Madison to join the program.
“It’s exciting to be able to share this project with alumni that might not have come back to this area in a while,” Brooke Driver, Hotel Madison senior sales manager, said.
Since its launch in August, the JMU Alumni Club has gained 240 members and counting, a number the hotel wants to grow “exponentially,” Judy Wilbur, Hotel Madison director of sales and marketing, said. Driver added that promotions like weekend stay giveaways are in place for when 1,000 members join the program.
“The hotel’s really trying to create an environment and atmosphere that’s a little bit different from staying at the Holiday Inn or the Marriott or something like that,” Combs said. “It’s kind of this really cool bridge of Harrisonburg culture and the university that you maybe can’t get other places in Harrisonburg.”
Wilbur said there was a vision for the club before the 230-room, three-star hotel launched, though it took some time to finalize the details. Those at Hotel Madison are working to draw alumni back to the area year-round, not just for heavily attended events like football home games, Homecoming, parents’ weekend and commencement ceremonies.
“Harrisonburg has a very different landscape than it had 10, 15, 20 years ago,” Wilbur said. “I think sharing that with hundreds of thousands of alum to come back and just see a very different Harrisonburg than was here when they were here.”
In the past decade, JMU’s campus has seen the addition of the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts, Student Success Center, Hotel Madison and Paul Jennings Hall as well as renovations to Bridgeforth Stadium, UREC, D-Hall and Wilson Hall, to name a few. The University has grown from roughly 17,900 students in 2009 to over 21,700 enrolled in Fall 2019.
Alumni who haven’t made it back to the Shenandoah Valley in a while might be in for a shock.
“[Harrisonburg] is its own destination now, and I think they, [alumni], probably didn’t feel that when they were here taking midterms and finals,” Wilbur said. “They get to really enjoy it and soak it in without that pressure of being a student.”
Contact James Faris at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.