Author: Melani Lane, Manager, Residence/Conference Operations, Dalhousie Agricultrual Campus
After many years of experience and thousands of clients later, I still maintain that no matter how organized and efficient we are, if the food service is poor, the client will say the overall experience was bad.
An old residence room and a fantastic buffet breakfast, a meeting room further away than the clients wants with a beautifully catered lunch and a projector malfunction in a room filled with the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls – the client will smile and say “what a great conference”.
All the behind the scenes scrambling, coordinating and negotiating on behalf of our client is important. However, equally important is the relationship we have with our Campus Food provider. We have been blessed with a food service manager who works as part of our team. Our clients are her clients and we all need to make them happy. We have older dorm style rooms, our equipment may inexplicably malfunction and sometimes we have to place a client further away then they want for a meeting. However, we know we can always count on our food service folks to pull out all the stops and provide a wonderful food experience. We keep files on favorite meeting space, preferred residence, special technical requirements and our food service folks keep files on favorite meal item, special desserts and so on.
I know that our behind the scenes attention to the hundreds of little details are so important to a successful client experience. However, ask a client when they are checking out how they enjoyed their stay — and so many will say something like “great, the lemon squares are delicious”, not “great, I appreciated that someone spent 2 hours putting up all that extra signage”. Seriously, does it really matter which member of the team gets credit? Isn’t it simply important that the client has a great experience? So, hats off to Campus Food Providers – I am so happy they are on my team.