Archive for April, 2013

Even Rookies Can Contribute!

Posted on: April 22nd, 2013 by Michael Lepage No Comments

A couple of months ago,when I signed up for this blog post,I thought surely by April I will think of something to write about.  But I have to admit, when I am in the company of other CUCCOA members, whether it is at one of our meetings or through reading the previous blog posts, I feel somewhat inexperienced.  Inexperienced, yes but,don’t get me wrong, I also feel very welcome.  From my first regional conference last January to the recent ACCED-I/CUCCOA conference in Toronto, I discovered that our association is a valuable resource for professional development and networking.  Our members are friendly and knowledgeable and they are very willing to share their experience.

Now, while this is all very true, it doesn’t quite help me with the task of writing a blog post for our members’ site.  Like some of you, I have never written a blog before.  In a way, I’m glad that CUCCOA has challenged us all to take part in this initiative.  Because whether you are a veteran of the industry, or perhaps a relative rookie like me, I think we all have something we can contribute to our association.

Yesterday was New Student Leaders’ Day at Victoria University.  It was a day of training and information sessions for students who have been hired or elected to leadership positions on campus.  I was invited to give a session on planning and booking campus events.  Oh – and I was only given 5 minutes for this presentation.Now, of course, 5 minutes isn’t enough time to go through a very detailed step by step event planning tutorial.  So in order to make the best use of my presentation time I showed the students our recently updated Victoria University Hospitality website (

Last year, at the CUCCOA central region meeting, we learned from a panel of professional meeting planners that it is critical for our websites to provide all of the necessary information about our campuses.  With that in mind, I went through the exercise of adding more information to Victoria University Hospitality website.  This provided me with a great tool for the New Student Leaders’ Day presentation.  And more importantly, a great tool for potential clients.

I know that it is hardly “breaking news” for me to write about the importance of an informative website but updating a university website is often easier said than done.  I was limited to the design and content management software that the rest of the VIC campus uses – a challenge that I’m sure many of us face – not to mention the long and tedious approval process for all of the changes.So it’s important to set aside plenty of time for this very necessary work.But once we’ve all put the hard work into improving our websites, we need to get the message out and attract visitors to the sites.

This, of course, is another way CUCCOA can help.  And that brings us to another website: the site.  I think all of our member institutions would benefit from avisit to the website to make sure that all of our information is up-to-date, pictures are relevant, and the links are still active.  We are the experts on our own institutions so it’s up to all of us to make sure the CUCCOA website is an effective representative of our campuses and services.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing you all in Calgary this September!

Tom Osborne
Manager, Event and Space Management
Victoria University in the University of Toronto

Success Lies Within our Human Assets – Our Staff

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

Author: Darlene Cunningham and Annie Sunich, Centennial College Residence – Toronto East

With the summer season fast approaching, the time has come to hire and train new staff. While this can be a daunting task, I have found the key to successful transition from dorm to hotel lies within our human assets – our staff.

Whether it be training new employees or acting as a mentor for the first few weeks, our existing employees are just as important to the process as the actual training is. They have the ability to lead by example and that in some cases can be more effective than the training. Let’s face it, we are all guilty of saying we understood something someone was trying to teach us when we really didn’t but seeing someone modelling what is expected of us is a much easier way to learn.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of training your front line staff. Not only does it let the new employee know what is expected of them, it also guarantees the guest the level of service that they are expecting. Guest satisfaction is the #1 priority so having strong senior employees is beneficial in assisting the new recruits during their transition period.

So, to anyone who is in the hiring process as we are right now, I would advise you to not only train your new employees, but also to lead them down the road to successful guest experiences and exceptional service. That is why we got into the hospitality industry to begin with.

Annie Sunich, Sales Manager
Centennial College Residence – Toronto East
Telephone: 416-438-2216 Ext.6307

Attending Conferences is Still Important

Posted on: April 1st, 2013 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Ruth Harland, Western University

Remember the feeling of jumping into a lake…running to the end of the dock, gathering your body up to launch it into space, holding your breath in that last second as you careen towards the water, that rush of air, the sense of falling into the unknown depths of crystal cold water, the feeling of the water rushing up to meet you.

….Or perhaps, you prefer to ease your way slowly into the water, one cautious step at a time, slowly letting the water drift around you in a silky blanket, the feeling of timelessness, air, water and you becoming one.  No matter how you go into the water, you end up in the same place, enjoying your day at the lake.

Why Are Conferences Important?

In this day and age, why is it important to attend conferences?  With the advancements of technology and companies striving to be more sustainable, does it make sense to send people to conferences?  I recently spent time at a conference, and for me, it was like a day at the lake.  There are the people who jump right in and those who watch cautiously and then gradually ease their way into the festivities.  However you choose to involve yourself at a conference, it provides you with opportunities that simply don’t exist through the use of technology, no matter how advanced.  Technology plays an integral role in business communications but it is impersonal.No matter how sharp the picture and the audio may be it can’t give everyone that one thing that sets the conference apart for them and that’s why conferences are still so important.

For some, it’s the whole event, similar to jumping into a cold lake, sharing a bonding experience with peers, discussing challenges and perhaps coming up with solutions.  If you are a more cautious type, easing your way into the water, it might be that one idea, or connection, or that person who really understands a particular challenge you may be struggling with.

Regardless of how you look at it, a good conference leaves us with a similar feeling as we leave the lake – our wet footprints drying on the dock, the sun slowly sinking behind us – tired, yet refreshed and revitalized looking for ways to improve our outlook- and our business.

Ruth Harland, Manager, Conference Services, Hospitality Services
University of Western Ontario
T: 519-661-2111 ext. 85974

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