We have some pretty incredible venues within our portfolio of Unique Venues members, however the venues wouldn't exist without the wonderful staff that operates them on a day-to-day basis. We wanted to introduce you to Hannah from the University of Florida and let you get to her role of working with meeting planners.
How long have you been in this industry?
I began my work in the hospitality industry in 2010 when I moved from my hometown, Chicago, to Orlando to work for the Disney Corporation as a Professional Intern. After two consecutive internships in the Internal Communications Department and a brief spell in Marketing, I took advantage of an opening at the University of Florida. October 2014 will mark my three-year anniversary with the University of Florida and I could not be more grateful for the wonderful experience that I have had while here.
How would you compare Disney to the University of Florida?
I always tell people that Disney sells ‘family’, but the Department of Housing at UF feels like family. Our Conference Services Team is incredibly tight-knit, which is possibly my favorite thing about working here at UF. However, the campus also has an unbelievable energy emanating from it that unites every Gator.
How do you balance work with life in order to stay focused?
I run the campus and the stadium every day after work – it’s hard to not be inspired by and take ownership of such a beautiful place. There is a reason we call our campus the ‘Heart of the Gator Nation’. Every person that visits us leaves as a Gator.
Tell me about an event or program you have hosted on campus?
This July we welcomed the Higher Things Lutheran Conference to UF for the first time. We assisted the Higher Things team in coordinating every detail for their 350+ guests, from housing and dining to athletic facility rental and comedy troupe scheduling. They certainly took advantage of the many wonderful offerings here at UF. On just one of the evenings during their camp we arranged an indoor/outdoor event in our Broward Area that featured blow up water slides, karaoke, sand volleyball, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, a cookout and an interactive performance with a UF student-organized, improv-comedy troupe. t was a fun-filled evening for everyone involved!
Your campus sounds great! What about the food?
We held a catered reception in our Jennings Area Lobby for the Higher Things Lutheran Conference. Overflowing trays of tasty finger foods and desserts was exactly what the client had in mind. The convenient, open lounge space and cocktail set-up was ideal for the social atmosphere that the team wanted for their staff appreciation evening.
What is the most unique venue you have on campus?
At Conference Services in the University of Florida Department of Housing we appreciate and value education, development and unity. That is why our meeting spaces run the gamut. The University Auditorium, which holds 860 guests, is one of many UF buildings included in the National Register of Historic Places. It houses a full pipe organ, a rarity in the Southeast US, which adds immeasurable beauty to the performance space. On the other end of the entertainment spectrum, but still just as beautiful, are the event spaces in the University of Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, affectionately referred to as ‘The Swamp’. The Swamp is the largest university stadium in Florida and turns almost any guest into a Gator fan! The stadium offers an inspiring backdrop to every event with spaces like the G. Edwards Evans Champions Club or Holloway Touchdown Terrace that can accommodate 100 to upwards of 700 guests.
Describe a team building event held on your campus:
No matter how unique your event, we have the perfect space for your group to come together to learn and grow. This summer the University of Florida unveiled a new high ropes course at Lake Wauberg, our off-site University of Florida-owned recreation area. The course is surrounded by great outdoor activities such as swimming, sand volleyball, water sports, and more! Lake Wauberg features large indoor and outdoor meeting space with stunning views of the area. Convenient on-campus options are offered at the Reitz Union such as the movie theatre, bowling alley, and large banquet spaces.
Biggest advantage to meeting on a college campus?
Our Conference Services Team looks forward to each summer with a lot of excitement because we really have a great time hosting all of our diverse groups. There is never a dull moment when assisting with the coordination of more than 30 different sports camps, which bring about 3,000 athletes and coaches to the Gator Nation. Add to that around 100 different preview events, academic camps, professional conferences, and other events bringing an additional 8,500 guests, and you’ll understand what all the excitement is about! he biggest advantage to hosting any event at the University of Florida is the multitude of resources at your fingertips. Our Team’s particular advantage is our location within the Department of Housing and Residence Education. We have access to eleven unique, undergraduate residential areas across campus that are comprised of at least two lodging buildings each and countless indoor and utdoor meeting spaces. The University of Florida works like a well-oiled machine to support our students during the academic year. When the student population is home for the summer, that well-oiled machine turns into a great resource for our Team. We harness all of our relationships across campus to create one place where our clients can come to plan every sort of event.