CUCCOA - Conference Program

CUCCOA 2018 Annual Conference







The 2018 Conference Committee is excited to invite our CUCCOA colleagues and friends to Hamilton this year and showcase the wonderful changes and growth our city has experienced. What better way to kick off the #HamOnt experience than with our opening keynote - the ‘Dynamic Hamilton Duo’ - Max Francis & Natalie Sexton!

Max & Natalie have become two of Hamilton’s biggest cheerleaders and most familiar faces. This energetic duo have a passion for promoting Hamilton and have embraced a very interactive form of promoting their businesses – participating in their communities and local events and becoming the recognizable faces of their brands


Max Francis, True Hamiltonian

Max Francis is the unofficial face of Hamilton. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere in the city without seeing his face on a magazine cover or his products on Hamilton residents. 

Five years ago he started True Hamiltonian and not only has it been the most successful clothing brand in the city but a full on social movement. He is the host of the Hamilton Tigercats and the men’s CHCH fashion expert. He is also partnered with the Hamilton Bulldogs, McMaster University, Tourism Hamilton, Collective Arts brewery, Centre 3 and many more. 

On top of all of this, he has hosted for Rugby Canada, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Vanier Cup, and The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.  Last year he starred in a movie that won top prize at TOIFF.

Max Francis is a professional actor, host and speaker on topics ranging from small business ownership to self and product branding and social media dominance. His warm engaging and sincere style builds an instant connection with his audience.

Max has presented as a keynote speaker to a wide range of business and educational events and gatherings. He has also been interviewed but every major publication, TV show and radio broadcast in this community





Natalie Sexton is a fashion stylist, brand ambassador, motivational host & speaker, in-stadium CFL host for The Hamilton Tiger Cats and a fashion expert for The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV Morning Live across Canada and CHCH Morning Live.

For better than a decade Natalie’s passion for fashion and all things girly has been the driving force behind her Canadian brand of  “Sexton in the City” Makeup, Clothing & Accessories. Natalie has generated a cult-like following as women flock to Sexton in the City Boutique and to get their SITC fix!

Natalie has a true passion for what she does and loves to help women find their own personal style in an affordable and enjoyable way.

"Clothing and makeup should make you feel beautiful and confident. SITC can transform any woman, on any budget, into a fashionista who will feel great about her look and her life!" - Natalie Sexton




Theresa Syer is one of today’s most influential voices and exciting speakers on Delivering WOW Guest Experiences. A dynamic speaker who shares a fresh approach that concentrates on the human factor and creating strong emotional connections with guests. Her highly entertaining messages have transformed how businesses in varied industries connect with their customers/guests.

Theresa is a 35 year hotel and hospitality veteran as well as a Certified Speaking Professional. She is recognized for her vibrant, often humorous addresses along with her contagious enthusiasm.

A successful entrepreneur, Theresa is the founding partner of the Syer Hospitality Group Inc., leading experts in Customer Experience Management. Her clients include some of the biggest names in business including, Four Seasons, Fairmont, Hyatt, Starwood, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Sunshine Village Ski Resort, Legend Boats, RBC Convention Centre, Mercedes Benz, and the Calgary Stampede, to name a few.


** APPROVED for 1.5 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 





Important Dates





Pre/Post Tours


What To Bring





Check PRE/POST Tours for Information

Please visit Hamilton Tourism for additional fall events in the city.


12:00 pm – 4:30 pm – Registration

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm – Welcome reception & Dinner, Mohawk College (Transportation provided) Casual, wear your school colours or shirts.

9:30 pm – 12:00 am – Hospitality Suite, catch up with colleagues and friends. (Hamilton Suite)



7:30 AM – 9:00 AM – Breakfast Buffet

9:00 am – 10:30 am – Opening Keynote: Max Francis & Natalie Sexton: The Dynamic Hamilton Duo

10:30 am – 11:00 am – Networking break – opportunity to visit vendors

11:00 am – 12:00 pm – Regional Meetings

12:00 PM – 1:45 PM – AGM Luncheon, Sheraton Hotel Ballroom




Erin Walton

Manager, Conference and Event Services | MacEwan University

It is proven that a motivated employee is a productive team member.

In this session participants will learn how to boost staff engagement, improve performance, retain valuable staff, and have more fun as a team! This interactive session will give all attendees some new hands-on strategies for employee engagement and understand why engagement matters.


** APPROVED for 1.0 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 








Michelle Everets

Manager, Hospitality | Mohawk College

Are you considering furthering your professional development by attaining your Certified Meeting Professional designation? Unsure about what the designation means or why it is important? This session is for you!

Michelle will discuss the process of applying for a CMP designation and what it means in the industry. Gain insight into preparing for the exam, exam dates, how to apply, collecting Continuing Education credits, and when to recertify.

Participants will have the opportunity to set up an account in EIC during this session – please bring a laptop!

Michelle is a Certified Meeting Professional with over 15 years of event and meeting planning experience most recently two of Canada’s largest multi-sport events (the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games).

** APPROVED for 1.0 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM – Networking Break




Susan MacKenzie

Conference Coordinator | Wilfrid Laurier University

Trying to blend a camp onto a busy campus can be challenging, and Susan and the staff at Wilfrid Laurier University know this first hand. This session will focus specifically on the JUMP camp, which has introduced over 30,000 students to university life over the past 25 years!

Participants will learn about the history of the camp and the logistics required when juggling camps and conferences. Susan will share her experience with the advantages and challenges of camps on campus, the planning and programming required, which campus departments are involved, and staffing levels and compensation.

Susan MacKenzie has worked with Laurier Conference Services since 2003, overseeing campus conferences, summer accommodations, and the JUMP Camp - a residential camp for grades 5-8 students.


** APPROVED for 1.0 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 


Richard Hampshire

Digital Marketing Strategist | Conestoga College

It is no longer accurate to say that we are operating in a changing marketplace, we’re operating in a changed marketplace! Guests and clients rely heavily on reviews and online presence to research their next reservation, conference event or booking.

Learn about using social media to your advantage to create online presence and promote your business! This informal social media session will provide participants with real life best practices, easy things you can do to improve your ROI, an understanding of the importance of a digital marketing budget and how to use it effectively, including a demonstration on setting up digital ads.

Richard is a web and online marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience working in the B2B, B2C and PSE industries.

Richard is responsible for developing Conestoga College's online marketing initiatives, including social media initiatives, email campaign and strategy, search engine optimization, information architecture, website user experience, digital advertising including Google Adwords, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube advertising.

Richard received his Honours BA in Fine Arts Cultural Studies from York University and his Post-Graduate Diploma in Interactive Multimedia from Humber College. He is passionate about his family, soccer and fine Scotch.


** APPROVED for 1.0 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm FREE TIME

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm – Dinner at the RBG Rock Garden (transportation provided, Dressy casual)

9:30 pm – 12:00 am Hospitality Suite, (Hamilton Suite)



7:30 AM – 9:00 AM – Breakfast Buffet

9:00 am – 10:00 am – Round tables

10:00 am – 10:30 am – Networking Break

CONCURRENT SESSION: 10:30 am – 11:30 pm


Sharon Murphy - Business Development Consultant Tourism Sales |Tourism Hamilton

As a campus conference and accommodations providers it can feel like we are left out of the overall tourism conversation in our cities.  In this session Sharon will discuss the role of DMO’s and how we can effectively work together to promote campus facilities, highlighting our unique product offerings, identifying your conference and accommodation goals, and adding our voice when it comes to city-wide bids and events.

Recognized as ‘Hamilton’s Tourism Guru’, Sharon has worked with the city’s most respected brands to put and keep Hamilton in the forefront of the tourism industry.

Sharon Murphy’s impressive career spans over three decades and includes all aspects of hospitality sales and marketing. An unapologetic optimist, her effervescent personality inspires and empowers everyone she comes into contact with.


Tanya Vecchiarino (Accommodations Supervisor, McGill University Housing & Conference Services)  & Stephanie Miller (Administrative Coordinator, McGill University Housing & Conference Services) 

Most companies deal with clients, but not all clients are rays of sunshine.  It includes those that are demanding, those that are just plain confusing, those that are trying to impress others, etc.  To help you identify the signs of a potentially difficult client, this session will help you:
-        Identify challenging clients
-        Examine different  types of clients
-        Discuss the different types of conflict resolution
-        Provide some conflict resolution tips


11:30 am – 1:00 pm Awards Luncheon



Dr. Heather Drummond

Counsellor |Mohawk College

The importance of mental health and wellbeing has been thrown into the spotlight in recent years. The conversation has started, the stigma is subsiding, and mental health supports are increasing. We are trending in the right direction; however, access to a mental health professional can still be difficult. This session will introduce participants to strategies that can be incorporated into their daily lives to strengthen mental wellbeing, not unlike exercise and healthy eating!

Dr. Heather Drummond works at Mohawk College where she is an embedded counsellor in the student residence. She has been working in the mental health field for over 22 years. As a passionate advocate for human flourishing, her current projects involve the creation, and implementation, of an eSuccess Coaching program ( where she reaches out to students through various social media platforms to “Spread Psychology Through Technology” and help people learn strategies that bolster their mental health and wellbeing.


** APPROVED for 1.0 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 


Sarah Johnston, CMP

Director, Conferences | University of British Columbia

Sarah has played a key role in developing an ‘Ambassador Program’ at UBC which recognizes academic conference hosts that bring international conferences to UBC.  The program provides UBC Professors recognition throughout the academic community and internationally for their academic achievements within their areas of expertise.

In this session Sarah will provide an in depth overview of the Ambassador program, discussing the benefits for the Professors, University, and conference department.  Sarah will highlight the steps taken to get the program off the ground, and how they gained support from the top UBC departments.

Participants will leave the session with practical tools and ideas for creating a similar program at their institution.

Sarah has worked for Conferences & Accommodation at UBC for over 15 years. During the past 4 years she has led the conference team in sales and servicing with a specific focus on academic international conferences.  Sarah can often be seen on the slopes skiing in the winter or boating to her family cabin on Gambier Island in the summer.


** APPROVED for 1.0 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm – Networking Break

CONCURRENT SESSIONS: 2:30 pm– 3:30 pm


Rob Morralle - Manager Parking, Mohawk College

In this session, we will discuss how Mohawk is taking a new and unique view on parking and how this integrates with conference services

Rob joined parking services in 2016 as manager. Previously he was involved with the ONE Card solution on campus and now manages both. Rob manages all parking operations at Mohawk College and is responsible for developing the licence plate recognition system at Mohawk College.















UBCO Staff Training Model - Customer Service is the Core Business

Suzanne Nazareno
Manager Conference & Accommodations,
Student Housing & Hospitality Services, UBC Okanagan
Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory

Suzi McCormick
Front Office Manager
Student Housing & Hospitality Services, UBC Okanagan
Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory

At UBCO, the Department title reflects what we do; Conference & Accommodations.   We advertise our claim: Not a 5-star Hotel, No 300 thread-count linens or down filled duvets, No art on the walls.    Our staff are our pieces of art, knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.    

The training of front line staff is about accentuating customer service which reflects the true identity of our operation and remains the core focus of our business.   We teach and train this philosophy with a focus on both hard and soft skills.

Participants will leave the session with an overview of the front line training model that encompasses both hard and soft skills.   The success of the training program supports the guest experience, but also provides staff with a skillset transferable wherever their journey takes them.

Suzanne Nazareno is the Manager, Conferences & Accommodation at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan campus.    (10 years).    Suzanne is responsible for developing the department strategic initiatives, overseeing contract operations, and works with campus planning to oversee the central space booking operation.     Previously, Suzanne worked with Simon Fraser University in both Housing & Conferences and with the Faculty of Education.
Suzi McCormick is Manager of Front Office, responsible for the operations of centralized front desk that supports the functions of Housing, Conferences & Accommodation, Residence Life and Facilities.   To say the least, her staff possess an incredible capacity for understanding the global operation.

 ** APPROVED for 1.0 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 


3:30 PM – 5:00 PM CLOSING KEYNOTE: Service Excellence Revealed - The Powerful, Timeless Service Strategies used by World Class Hotel Brands, Theresa Syer

Have you ever wondered what you could do to enhance the level of service your team delivers to guests of your residence and conference facilities? Curious how they could emulate the level of service that world class hotel brands deliver? That personal connection, the true welcome, the feeling of being emotionally connected, valued and appreciated for your business.

Well think no more. Delegates of this year’s CUCCOA National Conference will hear the closing keynote address by Theresa Syer. She will share the secrets and inside scoop on exceptional service delivery as gained from her years of working with World Class Hotel Brands.

Get ready to take notes as she shares her knowledge and how to tips, in order to transform your good customer service into powerful Guest Experiences. She’ll have you focusing on the human factor and the ‘how you made them feel’ connection. You’ll be able to turn your campus meetings, conferences and guest offerings into exceptional assets. The benefits to your operation…competitive advantage, increased guest loyalty, advocacy and yes, profits to your bottom line!

This session will help delegates explore:
- The experience from the guests perspective
- The emotional connection opportunities
- The task and experiential responsibilities to the guest
- Human behaviors and communication to improve your emotional connections
- Building relationships that matter in business
- Understanding the power of consistency and replicating engaging behaviour

** APPROVED for 1.5 CE Credit by the Events Industry Council for CMP Continuing Education Hours 


5:00 pm – 6:00 pm – FREE TIME

6:15 pm – 9:00 pm – Closing Dinner: Art Gallery of Hamilton, Tanenbaum Pavilion (Semi-Formal)

(Located across from Sheraton Hotel)

9:00 pm – 12:00 am Free time join others as we gather at the local watering hole, chose between fun exciting bar with music and games or a quiet place to chat with colleagues.




Contact Us

Conference Co-Chairs:

Patty Alencar

Michelle Everets




Carol Ford
[email protected]


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