A Week in the Life of a Conference Manager

Author: Sara Tuck, Manager, Conference and Event Services, Georgian College

I was stuck on what to write about for my upcoming blog when it dawned on me that for my own sanity I needed to recap and regroup after our extremely busy Reading Week.

As I am sure you can all appreciate, the week started off with more snow and of course the event that we were planning was at one of our satellite campuses, the route to get to that campus is one with open fields, lots of drifting snow and blowing snow.  Having to leave my house at 6:00am, we still managed to get to the campus by 7:30am – not a fun drive but a very successful event!

Day 2 consisted of 27 high school busses coming to campus for an Equity in Action youth conference.  It seems that the bus drivers decided not to follow our recommended map when entering the campus and ended up in the round-about where city busses drop off.  You can imagine how fast Campus Security was all over Conference Services, quick to blame the bus situation on us.  We also had another group in today that decided to park in a Fire Route resulting in 10 parking citations that they all refused to pay….another reason for Campus Security  to be all over us…oh and did I mention that it snowed today!

Day 3 – Convocation Day – 1500 guests expected.  Much to my dismay I enter the gym expecting to see it nicely setup and ready to go only to find it not even ½ setup and guests are expected to arrive in less than one hour. I then had a mother yell at me because she felt that her parking spot was too far away from the entrance of the facility.  Today it is snowing and minus -25 with the wind chill, our outdoor signage blew away and I received 2 more parking citations from the Tuesday group.

Day 4 – Today is now Thursday, we have a large agricultural conference arriving today bringing with them several tractors to display outdoors, one of the tractors would not completely fit through our gate arms causing damage to the gate. As I am investigating the damage, I am notified that one of their designated classrooms seems to be occupied by an academic class who is refusing to move because they swear that they booked the space.   Today there are snow squalls, reduced visibility and several road closures.  It is now 3:30pm and the college is closing due to deteriorating conditions, we have had to ask all of our groups to pack-up early.

Day 5 – I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is Friday and the sun is shining! The agricultural conference is back in today along with 3 other groups. Only one small hiccup today around technology, quick on our response we were able to set up a Go To Meeting for our client which was a success even though our presenter was in a different time zone and had to present with bedhead. We are wrapping up the week on a busy note – lots of classroom resets to be done in preparation on Monday’s classes. 

When I reflect back on our weeks activities, I can only smile and think that this is exactly why I do what I do.  I love trying to predict every single need that a client may request and when the unpredicted happens, I love problem solving, mentoring and troubleshooting to ensure that our clients have the best possible experience.

Another successful Reading Week has come to an end, looking forward to the next!

Sara Tuck, Manager, conference and Event Services, Georgian College
Telephone: 705.728.1968, ext. 1135
Email: Sara.Tuck@GeorgianCollege.ca

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