Archive for March, 2013

Enhancing our Students’ Post Secondary Experience

Posted on: March 25th, 2013 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Daniel Wortman, Mount Allison University

If your conference department is anything like ours, then you will agree that we would be lost without our capable, industrious, and relatively inexpensive summer students. Providing student employment and income is one of the biggest benefits ancillary services can offer a campus. These employment opportunities provide our students with real world experience and aid in their own personal growth and development. As managers, it is our responsibility to contribute to our students’ education by ensuring that our opportunities are as enriching as possible.

Conference summer assistants start at a difficult time of year, and it is always a struggle for us to find time to work with our students when we have so many other demands. Here are three things that have been successful for us and for our student staff at Mount Allison.

The hiring process: We have found that an intensive hiring process can take more time, but it is an investment well made. Our applicants must first complete an online application form. Successful applicants are interviewed, carousel style, in groups of three. During the interview the candidate must make a sales pitch to a potential conference client, complete an in-depth questionnaire, answer questions from a traditional interview panel, and participate in a group interview with the other candidates. Even the unsuccessful candidates will have gone through a valuable, real world experience.

Training: A week long orientation provides training on all of our in-house policies and procedures.  Throughout the week, additional training sessions in first aid, customer service, smart serve, food safety, and conflict prevention provide our students with certifications that will be valuable to them when they enter the work force after graduation.

Performance review: Individual reviews take time, but they are crucial to students who are still developing their skills and their work ethic. The right opportunity with the right feedback can turn a slow starter into a leader over the course of a summer. End of term exit interviews are equally as important.

Enhancing our students’ post secondary experience through employment opportunities does take more time and effort, but it is an investment that will yield tremendous long term benefits to your department and, more importantly, to your students.

Daniel Wortman
Manager, Ancillary Operations
Mount Allison University

Student Events and Campus Safety

Posted on: March 18th, 2013 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Jenny DeBruyn, Queen’s University

It seems like the school year just began, but end-of-year celebration planning is already well underway. While the faculties, locations, and themes of these events may differ drastically, a mandatory consideration for each planning committee (aside from throwing a fantastic event, of course) needs to be safety.

One of the first steps a student group must take to ensure a safe event is to have it sanctioned by the Alma Master Society (AMS). The AMS will assess the risk factors of the event and determine if Queen’s Student Constables (QSC) or Queen’s First Aid (QFA) are required to be present.  Events licensed to serve alcohol must have QSC on-site to ID guests and manage risks. The Student Constables do an exemplary job of ensuring safety and adherence to campus policies and laws. While the wait at the door to be checked by QSC may seem like a hassle, these precautions are vital in ensuring the safety of guests and the continuance of such spectacular, annual events. Among other tasks, QSC ensure no inappropriate items are brought into events, they ID guests on entry, and they monitor all areas of the venue.  When issues beyond the expertise or responsibilities of QSC arise, we are fortunate that Queen’s Campus Security will quickly step in to support their efforts.

While sanctioning your event and having QSC on-site is a huge step in planning a safe shindig, there are additional items to consider when planning. Your event venue, and details surrounding it, will have a major impact on the safety of your event.  Can guests get to it easily and safely? Does your guest list stay within the maximum capacity of the venue?   Is your decorating team working within the limits of what is safe and what they are trained to do? For example, ladder safety is very important, thus, untrained and uninsured persons should not use a ladder for the purpose of hanging decorations. Do your decorations meet fire and safety regulations such as maintaining fire exits and limiting exposed flames?  Have the electrical limitations of the space been considered?

In addition to venue concerns, events licensed to serve alcohol present additional risks. The primary objectives in ensuring safe alcohol service focus on controlling the amount of alcohol consumed and the intoxication of individuals. Alcohol consumption can be controlled by limiting the length of time the bar is open, limiting the type of alcohol available, limiting the number of “free” or host beverages available to guests, and ensuring adequate amounts of food are available.

While it seems like there are a lot of mundane details to consider and safety may not be as fun as decorations and menus, these details are required for a truly successful event. As the saying goes; hope for the best but expect the worst. A little forethought and planning will ensure your event is safe and fabulous.

Marilyn Casselman, Manager, Sales and Marketing
Queen’s University
T: 613.533.6000 x 77455   E:

The Golden Rule!

Posted on: March 11th, 2013 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Sara Tuck, CMP, Georgian College

My Golden Rule in this industry is building positive and strong relationships with your vendors, suppliers and partners.  My motto has always been, “Treat everyone like you want to be treated, with respect and integrity.  Treat them like a customer, and they in turn will treat you like a customer.”

As a “Certified Meeting Professional”, I can make things happen for events by tapping into the partnerships that I have carefully nurtured over the years.   In this industry it is goodwill, respect and trust through the development of excellent working relationships which has enabled me to provide quick response to challenges before they become major issues.

Much like a client relationship, vendor relationships are built upon effective communication. At the beginning of any new relationship, both parties must clearly communicate to arrive at a mutual understanding of wants, needs, and end results. Understanding your needs and goals – both internal and external – will provide insight into the specific project and possible future ones.

Promoting your vendors/suppliers should not end with the completion of the event. If they have made your meeting or event a success, then maintain your ties to draw upon that person’s experience and expertise in the future. One way to support your vendor/supplier after a successful event is to talk about it. Giving referrals is a great way to recognize the quality service provided. Word of mouth referrals are often more beneficial to their business than any other method of promotion. Why? Because your experience with their services is more credible than any marketing materials they may rely on.

What is your Golden Rule?

Sara Tuck, CMP
Manager, Conference Services, Georgian College
(T) 705-728-1968, ext. 1135

Greetings from the Waterloo Region team …

Posted on: March 4th, 2013 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Authors: Susan MacKenzie, Wilfrid Laurier University, Martha Wallace, Residence Conference Centre-Kitchener, and Susanne Keppler, University of Waterloo–Conference Centre

Not only are we all good friends but also team players in bringing business into the region.  If one of us is not able to accommodate a group we are quick to refer the client to each other to keep the business in the area.

There are also times where we quote together on hosting a group in the area and are working closely with our tourism organization to bring groups into the city.  You see, between the three of us we can accommodate over 4,000 guests.  What hotel can do that?

In May 2012, the uWaterloo and Laurier hosted the 2012 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences –, which consisted of over 80 association meetings.  This event brought in over 8,000 attendees to Waterloo over an 8 day time period.  This event also included a lot of community partners such as hotels, restaurants, local attractions and government officials.  An event of this calibre required all departments at both campuses to work together.  This is something that doesn’t happen very often and can be challenging.

Partnerships are important.  We learn from each other, we share ideas (over wine), and we also sell each other’s facilities.  There are also times where we share the occasional employee.  We recognize each other’s strengths.  While we offer different amenities and are located in different areas of Kitchener- Waterloo we try to understand what the customer is looking for and guide them to the perfect venue.

There are so many benefits of working together.  We can’t stress enough the importance of partnerships – whether on campus, with other regional institutions, within the community, or among the CUCCOA organization.   Partnerships can take work but they are worth the effort.  Cheers!

Susan MacKenzie
Conference Coordinator
Laurier Conference Services
(519) 884-0710 Ext. 3958

Martha Wallace
Regional Sales Manager
Residence Conference Centre – Kitchener
Phone: 519-895-2272 x713

Susanne Keppler
Conference Services Manager
Unviersity of Waterloo – Conference Centre
Tel:  519-888-4567, ext. 35833

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