Author: Janet Gates-Robart, Business Development Manager, Conference Services, Saint Mary’s University
Don’t forget to market your university to your local hospitality partners!
Firstly, you can’t afford not to be a member of your local tourism bureau, for us it is Destination Halifax. If you don’t have a specific bureau in your area then I would work closely with your provincial tourism office or city office as they are on the pulse of what large events, city-wide conferences, sporting events, etc. are coming to your area. Building these relations and getting involved in future bids and proposals will assist with being “top of mind”. Face it, Universities can easily be forgotten as an option for upcoming conferences & events.
Some other local hospitality partnerships that are beneficial and should be part of your network are: hotels and 3rd party meeting/event planners. Everyone’s striving for the same results and the busier they are the busier you will be.
I would also recommend you join your local chapters of MPI (Meeting Planners International), CSAE (Canadian Society of Association Executives) – too name a few. These offer not only networking opportunities but also valuable educational sessions.
Here are some results we have received from working closely with our local hospitality partners:
– A conference that could not afford hotel rates and the hotel recommended they call the local universities.
– Doing a joint bid with a local hotel for a large conference that had students and professionals attending therefore requiring a hotel & residence block of bedrooms.
– A conference that required a lot of breakout rooms or a large plenary that the hotel could not accommodate.
These are just a few examples but make it one of your goals in 2014 to build those local hospitality partnerships. They will pay off!