With the evolving situation currently, the safety and well-being of our guests, associates and community remain our top priority. We are on board with all in playing our part to take measures in curbing this global pandemic here in BC. In view, we will suspend bookings for stay dates from now until 31 May 2020.

It’s that time of year again…Transition!

It is very exciting to share one of the most unique operating times in a University or College that offers summer guest accommodation.  It is what we call Transition.  What this refers to is the transition from students living in residence during the academic months to the business operation of ‘hotel’ accommodation for individuals, families, and groups over the summer months.  Quite the process!  This planning begins as early as February for a transition process during the first two weeks of May.

Planning involves everyone from Conferences & Accommodation, Residence Managers, Housing Administration, Front Desk and Maintenance to Housekeeping. All working toward the same goal of smoothly transitioning vacating students to the anticipated Annual Grand Opening of Conferences & Accommodation (May 11th for us!).  It is a very exciting time of year with lots of hard work to ensure when rooms are ready for summer guests they are in perfect condition.

2018 summer guest accommodation means transitioning 7 buildings, over 500 rooms and more than 700 beds ready for occupancy.  That translates into deep cleaning and maintenance in not only individual rooms, but all common areas within a building, preparing linens, pillows, towels, and amenities for each room and bed.  Training front desk staff that will be instrumental in excellent customer service for guest reservations, arrivals and stays.  Increasing housekeeping staff ensuring rooms are cleaned and ready for the next arrival throughout the summer.


The coordination with parties involved is critical to the success of our Conferences and Accommodation season and our guests’ comfort.  From year to year we continue to perfect the process by reviewing, improving, and listening to our guests for amazing results.  Just when we’ve finished this remarkable transition, we begin looking forward to our next exciting transition, welcoming new and returning students to residence in early September.


Sport Team Travel – What You Need to Know.

Travel can be stressful at any time but when you are trying to organize travel for a team, it can be down right chaotic.  Having been a Manager for my children’s soccer, football and hockey teams, I have learned to master the skill of organization!

 Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way:

Accommodations:  Once you receive notice of your tournament dates, get on the phone and reserve your room block.  Many tournaments are sponsored by a local hotel or use a third party reservation company.  While sometimes these can yield great deals on rates, it’s not always the case. Make sure you do a bit of research and make a few phone calls just to make sure. 


Food: Players need to eat and knowing what amenities are close by is essential.  If you want to have a team dinner, make sure you check to see if your hotel has a room that you can reserve for a night and if so, book it when you block the rooms.  Double check if there is a charge! Pizza dinners are a popular choice for teams.  Many local pizza places will give a discount to teams for large orders.  Once again, you may need to do a bit of research and order well in advance.  If you are going out to an establishment for your team dinner, get your numbers and reserve as early as possible.


Tournament Schedule and Directions:  There is nothing worse than getting those frantic calls from parents or players wondering what time their game is or where the field or rink is located.  The tournament host team should have all the information on their website.  So sending the website link is an easy way to share the info with parents. Tournament scores and standings are usually updated on the website as well; so it’s a great way to keep track of how your team is doing.  Make sure to also check ahead of time if any of your game times conflict with rush hour or any known construction issues that would result in increased travel time.  


Just In Case Kit:  No matter what sport you are playing, it is inevitable that a player forgets something.  Having that extra mouth guard, stick tape, jersey, uniform socks, water bottle, etc. can be a life saver.  While you can’t have an extra of everything, it is great when you can fix the little things without sending everyone into a panic.


The Hidden Costs of Budgeting

When planning an event, conference, or workshop we all know that Budget with a capital B always becomes one of the most important factors for all planners.  It is usually the big items that we watch closely and take into consideration, which of course makes perfect sense.  However, have you noticed that even when you have those big items accounted for, the budget continues to creep up and up.  That’s because we often neglect to appropriately fund all the smaller, and equally important, items that add up quickly.

Just a few tips to keep in mind when building your budget:


Travel Expenses typically fall under the big items category if you’re flying and staying in accommodation.  But it’s not always just the airline ticket and room charges.  Ensure that you are budgeting for luggage charges, hotel wifi charges (yes, some still charge you!).  What about any shipping costs and storage costs of materials for the event?  Who is paying for the parking and fuel, even if you’ve accounted for the vehicle rental? Have you included taxis plus gratuity?


Most planners build in a ‘miscellaneous’ account to cover, well, miscellaneous costs.  A few things that are good to build into this account are taxes and credit card fees if you’re collecting fees for registrations. Insurance fees, more and more venues require certificates of insurance. Communication fees, will you be upgrading service plans or accounting for data overage charges?  Don’t forget overall gratuities.


Gifts and Awards are important line items on most event and conference budgets.  It is the opportunity to recognize individuals’ important contributions to the organization.  Remember that there are other costs associated with this category that include shipping, engraving, logos, are you wrapping the gifts? Do you have volunteers that you need to recognize and/or provide recognition for time spent? On a side note, will you be providing paper and pen on the tables? How about table treats such as hard candy?


Individually these items don’t really seem like much.  When you multiply the cost by attendees, planning committee, and other individuals you’ll be working with the costs add up quickly.  It is always wiser to over budget by a bit than to fall short. Check out our sample budget to help you get started UBCO C&A Sample Budget.

TOTA Receives International Biosphere Certification

I attended the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association Summit in November where I learned that the Thompson Okanagan had just been awarded the International Biosphere Certification.  They are the first in the Americas to earn this designation.  If you are like me, you are wondering what this actually means.  Well, this is a certification from the International Responsible Tourism Institute that recognizes that the Thompson Okanagan has met the criteria stipulated from the United Nations and Paris Agreement on climate change.  Ultimately they have met all 137 benchmarks set out to maintain environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

The International Biosphere Certification was established in 1995 at the Conference for sustainable tourism. They incorporated the 17 UN’s sustainable development goals along with the main guidelines from the Paris Climate Summit.  Regions who meet the criteria are dedicated to monitoring and maintaining such areas as labour standards, clean energy and water use, human rights and social justice, gender equality, health and poverty standards and sustainable communities.

Currently there are only 16 regions in the world that hold this Certification with 9 more in the process.  I find it surprising that the Thompson Okanagan is the only region in North America to have undertaken this process.  Having this platform to demonstrate responsible tourism will hopefully not only draw people to our beautiful area but also be a leader in facilitating similar goals for the rest of Canada and North America.

TOTA Biosphere Designation Announcement 2017

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(2017). Retrieved from Biosphere Responsible Tourism:

Top 2018 Tourism Trends to Take Advantage Of

Tourism today is very different than the days of our parents.  We now find that the millennial’s are officially the largest generation in history, beating out the baby boomers. Therefore it stands to reason we are seeing a shift in our travel trends.  Travelers are reallocating their priorities and moving towards wanting that ‘authentic’ experience. We have an emerging trend in food tourism and there is something called ‘bleisure’ where business and leisure trips are being combined.


The authentic experience; not always easy to clearly define or tangibly assess but travelers are navigating towards real experiences that highlight the natural environment, culture and customs of places they visit. Living in the Okanagan, I can think of so many outdoor adventures that really embrace this philosophy.  Responsible tourism also plays a factor as travelers are paying attention to the environmental, economic and social impact they make on the places they visit.


We all love food and food tourism is an evolving industry around the world. Travelers want to see, smell and taste the indigenous food and cuisine they have read about.  Many are even planning their trips around specific festivals and events…I know I love the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival!  Visiting classic food markets or partaking in a farm to table meal will give foreign and local travelers alike that genuine experience.  Another increasingly popular trend is participating in a cooking class; the emphasis on cuisine local to the area they are visiting.

‘Bleisure’, the term penned for people who mix their business and leisure travel.  Finding balance between work and personal life is important and it’s a great way to optimize holiday time and it makes financial sense.   This has become an in demand job perk and many companies are developing travel policies that encourage personal and professional growth during travel trips.  I think of all the business travel we have pass through during our accommodation season; having those few extra days to explore the Okanagan would definitely be a great way to unwind after a business trip.

2018 Year for Synergy

Happy New Year!  2018 is just beginning and like all beginnings, we look to the future with optimism, wonder, and inevitably some uncertainty.  We are also programmed to think that we must try to re-wire ourselves by creating ‘New Year’ resolutions for the coming year.  Hmmm, like most, I question whether this is really productive.

Perhaps going into a New Year can be an opportunity to embrace the strengths that you already have, embolden the possible by embracing not only our strengths but those around us.  Maybe it’s time to really espouse synergy.

When beginning to plan an event, workshop, or conference, it is the synergy of the planning group that ultimately results in a successful event.  Even when you are the ‘main’ planner, it takes those who are implementing the plan to work together, have the same vision, understand the purpose and have their own expertise contributing to the overall success. Take advantage of some of these experts:


The Venue Expert.  It would be wise to recognize that the Venue Coordinator’s strength is how best to utilize the space you’re choosing.  They are able to ensure that your vision fits within the reality of the venue’s parameters. UBCO offers a unique experience of being on campus; it is the venue experts that can help to navigate the venue use with campus partners.




The Catering Expert:  Who knows the menu and capabilities of the catering company better than the Catering Manager and Chef?  When working with a catering company, don’t be afraid to share your budget and dietary desires. Most all chefs’ love the opportunity to create a menu ‘off the menu’, I know ours does! Let their expertise guide you in meal courses, quantities, and how to manage dietary restrictions.



Logistics Expert: Logistics are critical to the success of any event; from arrival, during, and end of the event. Frustration on your guests’ part during these times will be remembered!  If these details aren’t part or your strengths arsenal, find someone who loves planning logistics; the puzzle pieces of movement and timing. Ensure your accommodations facility knows if there will be a large group arriving simultaneously, ensure that your multiple meetings leave time for movement & breaks, reflect and visualize when and where your people will need to be and plan how accordingly.


Facilities Set Ups to your Specification

Derek with the UBCO Facilities Management Dept. has you covered!  They will set up your meeting and special event to your specifications!  From formal round tables for dining to lecture theatre style in the Ballroom!

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UBCO Bookstore has Lots to Offer!

While visiting campus, be sure to check out the UBC Bookstore for all kinds of clothing, gifts, reading material, tech supplies and much more!

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Meet on Campus

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Introducing Malcolm with UBCO IT Services

UBCO IT Services ensures that all of your group’s IT needs are met!

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