Oct 22, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
Summer Conference season ended the last week of July, but the professional team did not waste any time getting started on Summer 2019. Our team likes to say, "We plan for 10 months to put on 10 weeks of a summer conference season." If you wonder why the fifth most stressful job in the United States is an event planner (after police officer, airline pilot, firefighter and military), keep reading!
Let's look at a year in the life of the Conference Services professional team:
* Marketing Manager sends proposals to last round of viable leads. Leads are processed and proposals sent throughout the year, and site visits are conducted as needed, but the best chances for an overnight summer camp or conference to succeed is if the leads are submitted by the end of September so our staff can accurately gauge the resources available around campus.
* Conference Services staff meets with campus providers (i.e., dining, parking, IT, Student Center) to evaluate successes and challenges from the previous summer.
* Conference Services staff start contract negotiations with clients for the following summer.
* Department of Housing assigns buildings for use the next summer. Residence halls fall into four categories in the summer: summer student housing, construction & renovation, Conference Services, or orientation housing. Some overlap may occur as space is available.
* Conference Services Staff begins to work on Fall Projects, including review of contract templates, and requesting updated provider rates and services from campus partners.
* Director works with other Department of Housing leaders to set dates for the following summer.
* Professional staff reports data and assesses the strategic plan to ensure alignment with goals and objectives.
* Rates for the following summer are finalized for housing and dining by the end of the month, and coordinators and Marketing Manager provide updates to repeat groups and qualified leads.
* Coordinators work with Marketing Manager to send quotes to new groups.
* Throughout the fall, professional staff attend and participate in educational forums, drive-ins and leadership opportunities with ACCED-I, the premier international professional organization for collegiate conference and event planners.
* Our e-Business Manager and Applications Analyst assess the effectiveness of our online applications and add features to continue to allow our e-Business programs to grow while simultaneously improving the guest experience every year
November & December
* Coordinators work with clients to flesh out specific needs and day-to-day schedules of the program.
* Conference Services staff finalize provider rates with parking, dining, IT and other campus providers.
* Coordinators send quotes to existing groups.
* Rates for long term programs are posted online and applications are opened up before we leave for Thanksgiving break, so potential guests can show their families that they would like to stay with us while they are home visiting for the holiday
* Marketing Manager works with other staff members to re-certify ACCED-I One-Stop Shop certification. The One-Stop Shop certification provides clients proof that the professional Conference Services staff can coordinate all logistics for their conference or camp, and the client can concentrate on programming.
* Youth programs complete Minors on Campus registration form online with link provided by conference coordinator.
* Coordinators will solidify contract specifics.
* Professional staff starts search for summer student conference assistants and student managers, who will work full and part time hours starting in early May. A core staff of 8-12 student staff work part-time during the academic year on setup crew, front desk customer service, and with various online applications and projects. During the summer months, a team of 20-25 conference assistants/set-up crew and seven student managers assist professional staff in the service of all guests.
* Professional and student staff process registration services and housing area meeting space requests throughout the year.
February & March
* Coordinators send contracts to clients for review and signature. Pre-payments will be due within 30 days of signature.
* Conference Services staff begin weekly meetings with custodial team to review summer schedule.
* Interviews are conducted for student staff.
* Professional staff attend the ACCED-I annual conference.
* Coordinators finalize program schedules and meeting space reservations with clients. Rosters will be due 10 days prior to group arrival. All minors on campus registration forms and COI approvals should be completed by now.
* Interviews are completed for student staff. Intern and manager positions are selected among this pool for more senior level positions. Background checks are completed and training begin as soon as possible.
* Conference Services staff meets with campus providers (i.e., dining, parking, IT, Student Center) to review upcoming summer camps and conferences, revisit successes and challenges from the previous summer, and highlight significant high traffic periods.
* Student staff undergo an intense week-long training to familiarize with front desk operations, emergency procedures and protocols, check in & check out procedure, software systems, customer service, event set-up/tear down and other key duties.
* While our student staff are training, professional staff complete the final preparations for long-term residents such as Intern Lodging Program and Extended Lodging Program guests, who start to move in during the third week of May.
* Before the first group arrives, Conference Services begins to meet weekly with Georgia Tech Dining management to properly prepare for the arrival of each program. This includes review of client booking contracts and dining guarantees. The final meeting will take place before the last group departs in July.
* During the last week of May, the first summer conferences and camps start, and we are off on our 10-week adventure!
June & July
* Professional and student staff provide exemplary around-the-clock service to our clients, the highest priority of our operation.
* Office hours are adjusted from 8am-5pm during the academic year to 8am-8pm, 7 days/week. An East Campus satellite office is opened to provide extra service to customers on that side of campus. Student staff are on call during off hours.
* Conference Services staff conduct evaluations with program representatives and guests.
* Custodial staff work to turn rooms and buildings over as groups and orientation attendees move in and out of residence halls. In addition to coordinating all logistics for almost 6,000 individuals part of conferences, camps, extended lodging and intern housing, Conference Services also coordinates housing needs for 3,000 Georgia Tech student orientation attendees.
* By the end of July, our conference and camp clients have packed up and gone home. Our student staff are completing final key audits and building checks, and our custodial and maintenance staff are going through all residence halls to ensure rooms are ready for Georgia Tech students to move in mid-August.
* During the first week of August, all remaining long term residents check out and we officially turn our housing inventory back over to the professionals that prepare for Georgia Tech student resident arrivals.
* Coordinators compile all provider invoices and begin creating one master bill for each client. Communication begins with existing clients to gauge interest in returning for the next summer so spaces can be allocated. Almost 80% of our conference/camp client base are returning guests.
* Conference Services staff send evaluations to clients and share data with campus providers, focusing on praise and process improvement.
* Marketing Manager assesses viable sales leads for the following summer and out-years.