Author: Heidi Dale-Johnson, Conferences and Accommodation at UBC, Vancouver
It’s a given, that at some point, we have cursed being hospitality ambassadors at a university/college. Whether you’re in Sales, Operations or Conference Services, it can, at times, be like trying to fit a circle into a square. We look at our hospitality colleagues at hotels and convention centres, and see how seemingly effortless it is to provide exemplary customer service and professional products and services – without the bureaucratic hassles that our institutions can bring us. Having spent time planning meetings offsite at brand hotels, I sometimes have to acknowledge that strolling around tastefully decorated lobbies and sipping on gourmet coffee seems incredibly appealing, over and above tripping over students at every turn and lining up at a Starbucks populated by hipsters.
Now, before I talk myself out of a job, let me highlight the flip side, the reason I do what I do – a philosophy, so to speak, that applies to every component of my job. We have the unique ability to combine hospitality with education and research that simply can’t be found anywhere else. This ability manifests itself in a number of ways. By working with faculty members to host a conference on campus, we bring valuable revenue into the university. Each institution channels these funds differently, but overall, education and students, in some capacity, are benefiting. Just a quick glance at an academic conference program profiles the incredible and often ground-breaking research that delegates, often our own students, bring to our campuses, in addition to the learning that occurs onsite. The buzz that delegates generate onsite follows them back to their home institutions, and in the social media age, this buzz has truly impressive traction. The memories that delegates walk away with, more often than not, are experienced based, revolving around food, scenery and environment. We can take great pride in knowing that this is our contribution. In the non-academic markets, we’re showcasing our institutions to future generations of students. Their language or sport experience can translate into a legacy of involvement.
So, the next time I am lured in by a sleek lobby, I simply have to remind myself that no matter how glossy the conference experience can be, it will never beat the opportunities to feature and propel education and research the way we can. Few of us are actual academics, but we all appreciate and respect post-secondary education, and we get to play a truly unique part in the process. Celebrate this!
Conferences and Accommodation at UBC, Vancouver
Phone: 604 822-1061