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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Meeting Space

Looking for a meeting space only? We have over 50 meeting spaces, from Lecture Theatres to Boardrooms and Foyers to Amphitheatres!

You want me to contribute what?

Author: Wendy Bros, Manager, Guest Accommodation Services, MacEwan University

With educational institutions’ budget constraints many of us who operate out of the Ancillary Departments are starting to feel the pressure to contribute more back to the Universities/Colleges we work for.

When you have limited time and space to operate with, how do we accomplish this?

1) Know your expenses and set your rates:
There is a fine line between blowing yourself out of the market and covering your costs. Doing your homework helps. Do a price comparison of the market in your area; calculate your expenses so that you know when you can offer a discount on volume and when you can’t. Keep in mind that the higher your occupancy the lower your costs are on each night you sell, which brings me to point #2….

2) Booking sites will be your new best friends:
They will increase your sales and occupancy on those unused nights. The higher your occupancy the lower your expenses are per night, driving up your profit margin. Win, win right? This brings me to point #3…..

3) Increase Sales Through Awareness:
How many times when you explain to someone new what you do for a living, they say…”I didn’t know educational institutions rented out rooms.” Most people don’t, however just by listing your rooms on these booking sites, creates awareness to thousands of people who didn’t even know we were an option before. Maybe they won’t book with us today but we will be in their minds the next time their daughter or son has an out of town tournament to attend….which brings me to point #4…..

4) The Non-monetary Contribution We Make to our Institutions:
I never miss an opportunity to remind anyone who will listen to me, the contribution we make by bringing in thousands of people to campus…all potential students, all potential parents of students and all potential students going to live in our residences someday. That is direct marketing at its best.
So when we are faced with that inevitable question, ”How much will your contribution increase next budget year?” these are the tools for success we have behind us to provide our answer with the utmost confidence.

Wendy Brost; Manager, Guest Accommodation Services; MacEwan University Residence
Telephone: 780-633-3623


Conferencing made easy

Author: Maaike Ammerlaan, Conference Sales and Services Manager – University of British Columbia Okanagan

I just came back from our CUCCOA National Conference held this year in Halifax, NS and I have picked up some great ideas again from my colleagues at universities & colleges all over the country and from the very inspiring speakers we were able to listen to.

What always spikes my interest are new electronic gadgets that help make my life as a conference planner a lot easier. At the conference I learned about ‘mobile check-in’, where guests check- in online (like on a flight) and just have to pick up their keys when they arrive at your campus. Off they go to their room with no time to waste at the front desk filling out forms or handing over credit cards. How easy and quick is that?

Or how about at your next big dinner event, you have a large touch screen in the room showing the lay-out of the tables and chairs, and the guests can select their seating by touching the screen and adding their name based on the other people they would like to connect with socially. Social tables it is called. Throws the painstaking time of putting a seating plan together out of the window!

And what if you can see on one map where the hot spots of your conference are by showing the ratings of each event as a colored dot: blue= not much interest, yellow= medium interest, red= lot of interest. By having your participants rate each activity, it instantly shows what is hot and what not at your conference. Cool!

Also getting more popular is the conference app where all the information about your conference can be found on the app. At our National CUCCOA Conference we tried out a conference app called Guidebook. They set-up a simple (free) version where everyone who would download the guide to their smart phone, ipad/tablet or laptop could see the program, speaker information, who was attending, sponsor information and maps of the conference facility and the local and regional area. You could also fill out a to-do list, set-up your own schedule, connect with other attendees by sending your electronic business card through the app and (very popular) upload pictures taken during the conference (of social events mostly!).
Instead of having to find your paper schedule to see what’s on at what time, you just open your app. The upgraded version of the app also gives you the opportunity to download presentations and have interactive maps. That definitely helps you make your conference become a lot greener!

Because attendees can rate each session instantly, as an organizer you do not have to send surveys to participants after the conference, who then have to think back about all the speakers they have listened to (and not mix them up). You can see your stats right away per event and know they are pretty accurate.

All these new technologies not only make going to a conference more fun, as a conference organizer, it makes putting on a conference a lot easier.

Maaike Ammerlaan, Conference Sales and Services Manager, University of British Columbia

From a Student’s Perspective

Author: Jena Lewis, Student, University of Lethbridge (Melissa Wiebe, Conference and Event Services,  University of Lethbridge)

From an outside student perspective, everything at a university seems to run like a well-oiled machine. It is only once you get behind the scenes that you can see how much time and effort (and occasionally panic) it takes to ensure that every event runs smoothly, and every hotel guest leaves happy.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that not all panic and stress is bad, but rather it can help create quick “on-your-feet” skills. Not only are these skills useful when empathizing with customers over lost keys or when they can’t find a specific classroom, but they also come in handy when giving a presentation in class, or when you are being peppered with questions.

Another skill I have been learning, albeit slowly, is time-management. This is crucial when planning any kind of event, especially when multiple university departments are involved. Time-management is a necessity when it comes to blocking off study time for finals, or finishing that crucial term paper while still maintaining a social life, and juggling other course work and commitments.

Ultimately the most important skill I’ve acquired is effective communication. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received that helps work through problems in my work and my life is to always repeat a question back to the person asking it. This not only allows you time to think of a quick response, but also shows the customer that you understand exactly what it is that they are asking about.

All-in-all the experiences I have had while working for the Conference & Event Services department have helped me develop skills necessary for school, as well as other skills that will translate to life after school. The high-stress daily activity of this field may come as a surprise to those new to the field, but eventually most students (or other new staff) adapt to the work-pace and are able to deftly accomplish complicated tasks, both at work and beyond.

Jena Lewis, Student, University of Lethbridge

Melissa Wiebe, Conference and Event Services, University of Lethbridge
Telephone: (403) 329-2650

Change is All Around Us

Authors: Susan MacKenzie, Laurier Conference Services and Susanne Keppler – University of Waterloo Conference Services

In the conference industry, CHANGE is the name of the game. As professionals we deal with change on a daily basis. Whether dealing with rooming list changes that are sent at the last minute, meeting room venue changes due to lack of air-conditioning, or residence changes due to a construction, we all deal with change each and every day of the conference season.

Change comes in many other smaller forms as well. While not causing as much impact to the guests, behind-the-scene changes related to computer and equipment upgrades, lock system conversions, signage, etc. can cause a lot of disruption to an already hectic conference operation. Often the conference staff are the last to find out about campus changes which can result in slight panic when trying to deal with the issues at the last minute or just as a large group is arriving.

One of the hardest aspects of change is a change in staff. All campus conference operations hire students for many different roles. We have heard past blogs about the difference an excellent student can make and we all have stories about students who have had an impact on our lives. It can definitely ease the manager’s load when a seasoned student returns for more than one summer. A student who is able to step into the role with minimal training just makes life a little easier at the start of the season. We build strong relationships with students and other staff as we train, mentor and guide them through the ups, downs, ins and outs of conferences. They grow and mature and leave our operations with a solid skill set that they will build on in their future career paths.

CUCCOA also experiences ongoing change as new members join and as great members move on to other opportunities. As members venture on to new roles, we lose their experience and comradery. Our Kitchener-Waterloo conference support system has recently experienced a change. Martha Wallace from Residence & Conference Centre-Kitchener-Waterloo will soon begin a new role at a hotel opening in Waterloo. While we wish Martha all the best, Susanne and I will definitely miss her positive attitude, determination, and willingness to always get together for a social event. We have benefited from our cohesive and supportive network and we will miss the connection. We know that Martha will take all of the skills she has gained while at work and through CUCCOA and successfully move forward in a new direction. We also know that Martha will ensure that the social events continue.

Change is always around us, and while it isn’t easy, we have to look on the bright side and discover that change also brings new opportunities, new friendships and new adventures. In the words of Gail Sheehy, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow we aren’t really living.”

Submitted by:

Susan MacKenzie, Laurier Conference Services
Telephone: 519-884-1970 x3958

Susanne Keppler, University of Waterloo Conference Services
Telephone: 519-888-4567 x35833

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