Archive for June, 2014

Change is All Around Us

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Authors: Susan MacKenzie, Laurier Conference Services and Susanne Keppler – University of Waterloo Conference Services

In the conference industry, CHANGE is the name of the game. As professionals we deal with change on a daily basis. Whether dealing with rooming list changes that are sent at the last minute, meeting room venue changes due to lack of air-conditioning, or residence changes due to a construction, we all deal with change each and every day of the conference season.

Change comes in many other smaller forms as well. While not causing as much impact to the guests, behind-the-scene changes related to computer and equipment upgrades, lock system conversions, signage, etc. can cause a lot of disruption to an already hectic conference operation. Often the conference staff are the last to find out about campus changes which can result in slight panic when trying to deal with the issues at the last minute or just as a large group is arriving.

One of the hardest aspects of change is a change in staff. All campus conference operations hire students for many different roles. We have heard past blogs about the difference an excellent student can make and we all have stories about students who have had an impact on our lives. It can definitely ease the manager’s load when a seasoned student returns for more than one summer. A student who is able to step into the role with minimal training just makes life a little easier at the start of the season. We build strong relationships with students and other staff as we train, mentor and guide them through the ups, downs, ins and outs of conferences. They grow and mature and leave our operations with a solid skill set that they will build on in their future career paths.

CUCCOA also experiences ongoing change as new members join and as great members move on to other opportunities. As members venture on to new roles, we lose their experience and comradery. Our Kitchener-Waterloo conference support system has recently experienced a change. Martha Wallace from Residence & Conference Centre-Kitchener-Waterloo will soon begin a new role at a hotel opening in Waterloo. While we wish Martha all the best, Susanne and I will definitely miss her positive attitude, determination, and willingness to always get together for a social event. We have benefited from our cohesive and supportive network and we will miss the connection. We know that Martha will take all of the skills she has gained while at work and through CUCCOA and successfully move forward in a new direction. We also know that Martha will ensure that the social events continue.

Change is always around us, and while it isn’t easy, we have to look on the bright side and discover that change also brings new opportunities, new friendships and new adventures. In the words of Gail Sheehy, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow we aren’t really living.”

Submitted by:

Susan MacKenzie, Laurier Conference Services
Telephone: 519-884-1970 x3958

Susanne Keppler, University of Waterloo Conference Services
Telephone: 519-888-4567 x35833

The Ripple Effect

Posted on: June 18th, 2014 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Ruth Harland, Manager, Conference Services, Hospitality Services, Western University

Have you ever noticed how a small simple ripple starts very clear and precise and then continues to expand outward in an ever increasing circle with less distinct features until it becomes part of one larger pool with all edges blended and blurred?

Conferences have the same effect on us.

We recently had a conference in with several challenging requirements and great expectations. They had never held their event on a campus before and so it was going to be a learning curve for both of us.   Of course, we wanted it to go well and they wanted their members to really enjoy the experience.

After all the planning and preparation, they arrived. The requests started almost immediately and the Conference team was on the run. For the next few days, a tremendous amount of time and people were dedicated to this group. Our Conference team was short staffed and tired and they could easily have become frustrated and annoyed, but then, the ripple effect happened.

The organizers were very appreciative of every effort made on their behalf and repeatedly told all members of the team. The staff worked harder and longer just to please them. Any glitches that came up were quickly identified and resolved. What could have been a long and discouraging week, turned out to be a positive and great experience.

And so, hopefully here is my ripple effect…..

Thank you for being part of our organization. I am better at what I do, in part because of your willingness to share your ideas and best practices. Your support is very much appreciated.

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

The Story of Yoshi

Posted on: June 9th, 2014 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Clarise MacGillivray, Guest Service Agent, Conferences & Accommodation, University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus

I (Debbie Harding) am taking the opportunity to share a write up from one of our student Guest Service Agents. So often we try to think of things to show our appreciation to these students and to encourage a sense of ‘team’ and ‘camaraderie’ between them. As you can see, they are so inventive and supportive of each other! So, thank you to our wonderful, brilliant and FUN guest service agents! We are so lucky to have you all on board!

The Story of Yoshi

As we gear up for another busy conference season in the Okanagan, we would like to take a moment to introduce a special member of our front desk team. He goes by the name of Yoshi! If you are not familiar with this lovable character, Yoshi is the small dragon that carries Mario on his back in the popular Nintendo video game series. In our office we use Yoshi to acknowledge when another staff member has gone above and beyond – perhaps in customer service or dealing with a tough situation in which they were able to work through it in a professional manner.

As the summer goes on, Yoshi is passed from one team member to another as a way to show appreciation for the exceptional work of each individual that in the past may have gone unrecognized. The feeling of a fellow team mate passing the Yoshi on to you makes you feel extremely valued, and it motivates you to continue going above and beyond in all aspects that make the front desk run smoothly.

For example, I gave Yoshi to one of my co-workers after my very first shift at the front desk. We had a huge conference checking in just as my shift was starting and she was so patient with me. Even amongst the craziness of everyone arriving she made sure that I was comfortable and had everything that I needed to succeed on my first day. It was so nice to have that calming presence to help alleviate a lot of the stress I was feeling on that day.


Yoshi Moments

Yoshi Moments


The Story of Yoshi by Clarise MacGillivray, Guest Service Agent, Conferences & Accommodation
Debbie Harding, Conference Sales and Services Manager, UBC Okanagan campus
Tel: 250-807-9358

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