Posts Tagged ‘University of Calgary’

To have and to hold or…not?

Posted on: September 15th, 2014 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Sarah M Roberts, Sales and Conference Planner, Meetings and Special Events, University of Calgary

Every event starts with an initial inquiry – if it’s from a repeat client or a new one – to see what space you have available, rates, available guest rooms and many other details.  We are in the sales business when these inquiries come in – how can we best serve this client with the right meeting space and rates to fit their budget?

The next question is often – “can you hold this space for me?”

Or an RFP arrives in your inbox – you’ve got 24 or hours (or sometimes even less!) to respond with a meeting space and guest room combination that will make it work for this potential client.  You respond efficiently and quickly, and maybe put some space on hold.

And then….you wait.

The question is: how long?

We deal often with clients who have a planning committee, or other decision maker that needs to see all the options before a decision can be made.  In our high demand periods, this can mean a few clients or RFPs for the same set of dates.   Although we are clear that event space are not being held, who doesn’t want a juicy piece of business to happen!  We will often work with the client according to their timelines to make it work.

This poses a challenge however: placing holds and maintaining them are time consuming, and our search for a new software system continues, so we continue to use older technology that is not as intuitive as we would like.

For most clients, we will hold their meeting space for a week or two, and if another inquiry comes in we will ask them to advise us within a couple business days.  For guest rooms, we do not hold without a contract, the volume of inquiries and bookings is too high for holds as we operate a hotel and seasonal residence in the summer.

So…do you hold?  For how long?  Do you take a deposit?  Do you hold sleeping rooms?

Would love to know!

Sarah M Roberts, Sales and Conference Planner, Meetings and Special Events, University of Calgary

Classroom Management & Conference Planning

Posted on: February 17th, 2014 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Leah Wotherspoon, Special Events Assistant, Meetings & Special Events, University of Calgary

Managing non-academic classroom bookings on campus has its share of challenges at the best of times, but as the academic off-season approaches, preparation for the flurry of spring and summer activities is in full-swing.

A university has a wide variety of priorities, and sometimes these priorities end up competing with one another for the finite resources that the campus has to offer. Once the winter session ends, the conference season begins. It is important to try to strategize space utilization for the conference season in order to be able to not only provide the best possible experience for the conference organizers, but also to be able to prevent turning conference clients away and to honor agreements that are made well in advance.

One of the big challenges with managing space for conferences is that conference planning begins quite far ahead, but the academic schedules are not finalized until enrollment for the courses is closed. Even though there are few course offerings in the Spring and Summer, there is still a chance that academic class scheduling can throw a wrench in even the best conference planning.

This year, I am trying to plan ahead for the potential pitfalls of room booking, by coming up with multiple room configurations, in partnership with our conference planner, in order to try to avoid last minute scrambling caused by unanticipated academic schedule changes or even the necessary-but-dreaded room closures due to renovations or upgrades.

In all of this, communication, thinking ahead, and flexibility are all key to successfully managing the conference season, as well as the summer schools and summer camps that dominate campus during the spring and summer.
What are some of your strategies for managing space during conference season?

Leah Wotherspoon, Special Events Assistant, Meetings & Special Events, University of Calgary
Telephone: 403-220-6229

Lessons Learned from Summer 2013

Posted on: September 16th, 2013 by Michael Lepage No Comments

Author: Amber Cunningham, Sales and Conference Planner, University of Calgary– Meetings and Special Events

With the summer conference season winding down, I can’t help but think to myself “I survived!” and I’m sure that many of you are feeling a similar relief as the fall semester begins. 

The University of Calgary had re-launched their conference model in 2013 with me as their sole conference planner. As we had taken the previous year off offering conference services, we didn’t know what to expect. We had no plans of advertising for the first year, wanting to keep things small and build from there. Now being September, I am proud to say that we had a booming first season back with our conference bookings hitting the double digits! Looking back on what was a very successful season, here are my top three learnings for next year:

Work those connections-

Working at an academic institution comes with its fair share of personal interactions. It really pays to get to know people in the various departments that make your University function; and who knows when you’ll need a contact in Groundskeeping or Electrical?

Hire an assistant-

You may not think that you’ll need one, but if my experience has taught me anything, it’s that a little extra help is always a good thing. Someone to be in the office sending out proposals and contracts while you’re on-site is invaluable.

Rework your schedule-

If you are working all weekend, take Monday off. There is something to be said about catching up on lost down time.

I am looking forward to the 2014 conference season; it’s going to be great!

Amber Cunningham
Sales and Conference Planner, University of Calgary – Meetings and Special Events
Telephone: 403.210.8701

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