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What's Trending: Community Colleges Day Meetings




By Selena Fragassi

 


As more community colleges open up their doors for day meetings, planners are finding an unforgettable experience that couldn’t be closer to home.
 
The day has come for community colleges to be regarded for their day meeting services. If you and your group are working 9-5—and don’t need overnight accommodations—“our rates are very competitive and can beat those of other institutions,” says Dustin Frost, auxiliary services manager of Tallahassee Community College.

In 2015, the Florida campus decided to become even more competitive by offering a block rate schedule for their 490-seat theater to allow for meetings that, more or less, need to reserve space by the hour. Day rates and half-day rates are also available for the other 15 spaces TCC has to offer, which includes a 1,200-person athletic center, a pair of ballrooms (for 250-300 people), and standard classrooms for 12 to 50.

“Each space comes with all the technology a meeting would need, including a computer, projector, and screen. It’s all included with the rate,” says Frost who notes that nonprofits, by far, are their biggest client due to an added discount as well as a strong connection to community. “It’s in our name. Being a part of the Tallahassee community is something people take to heart. They look at us as their institution and want to come here.”

The popularity of Columbus State Conference Center follows the same rationale. “Our current president, Dr. David T. Harrison, is very active in the community and in building community partnerships. We do quite a bit of co-sponsored day meetings with government and educational entities,” remarks CSCC Director Rita Bedritis, estimating that the Center pulls in 1,000-plus events with 48,000 attendees coming through every year. That’s an all-time high for the 10-year-old property that occupies the entire fourth floor of the college’s Center for Workforce Development building.

CSCC offers 13,000 square feet of space spread out amongst a 4,700-square-foot ballroom and balcony and six flexible breakout rooms. Pricing here, too, is all-inclusive with bundled services including a professional events management team, A/V technology, Wi-Fi, and parking.

“Now, we actually have less events under 100 people, and the average attendee per event is larger,” Bedritis says of the latest trend, which she believes is due to a rise in smaller budgets that planners have to work with and her team’s legwork of connecting with more associations through organizations like MPI, PCMA, ISES and NACE.

One of the amenities that does seem to vary at community colleges is food service. Columbus State has a list of five preferred caterers they work with, for example, while Tallahassee Community College has no restrictions, as long as the food service provider can present documentation.

At Millennium Conference Centre in Johnson City, Tennessee, however, the property actually specializes in complete food and beverage service that’s “considered a cut about the rest,” says General Manager Adam Maurer, noting they draw “culinary enthusiasts throughout the region.” Menus are crafted by Certified Master Chef Jean-Claude Seruga, a Paris native who has the distinction of being the youngest CMC in French culinary history.

The setup here is a bit different since The Millennium Conference Centre is located directly next to East Tennessee State University with a pedestrian walkway connecting the two, offering a unique partnership. As well, Millennium Conference Centre has offered exclusive day meetings since opening in 1999 with special Day Meeting Packages that are popular says Director of Operations Terry Woodward because “it offers clients an easily understood price point for less than an ‘a la carte’ structure.”

Internal clients at ETSU and local medical groups are the most regular clientele that utilize the Centre’s 66,000 square feet of space that includes a 5,900-square-foot ballroom, two auditoriums, breakout rooms, and a centralized dining area. That’s mostly because coordinating travel into a regional airport with few direct flights “can be a challenge,” says Woodward.

 At Tallahassee Community College, attracting large national events is also difficult since there are no overnight accommodations, though Frost says they do partner with local hotels to offer room block deals.

“Most would also say that this is a small challenge in relation to the meeting experience they receive,” says Woodward, noting their retention rate is 92%.

Bedritis seconds that. “Because we are a smaller property there is that special attention and detail to service and flexibility. Our rules are not hard and fast like you might find elsewhere.”

Though perhaps the best news about these growing day meeting centers is that you can always find one in your community.



Get Connected

Columbus State Conference Center
Columbus, OH
UniqueVenues.com/ColumbusStateConfCtr
(614) 287.5500

Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee, FL
UniqueVenues.com/TallahasseeCC
(850) 201.6058

The Millennium Conference Centre
Johnson City, TN
UniqueVenues.com/millenniumconferencecentre
(423) 232.2006 
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