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Unique Venues Professional of the Year

By Selena Fragassi


Shane Cutler can't remember a time he wasn't immersed in the world of higher education. From starting his career as assistant director of student activities and Greek life at Plymouth State University to becoming the first director of the University of Vermont's Conference and Event Services department to his current role as general manager for events & conferences at Boston University, Cutler has made the campus home-not only for himself but also for the many groups that visit each year. "I truly love our fast-paced, collaborative, and relationship-oriented environment where we have the ability to actively seek service opportunities to improve the work that we do," says Cutler, and if his 2017 benchmarks are any indication, there's more good things in store for next year.

“Shane and his team have created an op- eration that is considered a benchmark in the collegiate conferencing industry,” says Unique Venues President Chuck Salem of naming Cutler Professional of the Year. If the 2017 accomplishments are any indication, there are more good things ahead.

Unique Venues: What were some of the key moments for you and your staff this year?
Shane Cutler: "One of the most exciting things is that we developed a departmental, five-year capital plan for renovations in all of our event venues. I think getting the support from senior leaders to start investing in our event facilities is huge. Now we can focus on those improvements and put them in priority order. Another accomplishment is our marketing efforts. We now look at marketing as systematic, multi-faceted, multi-layered, and, whenever possible, personalized. We've made gains through SEO, social media, ad campaigns, full-out website designs, collateral, e-blasts, and outreach to our local chamber. We also have a better client feedback system, including meetings with our annual summer clients and a new online evaluation system, where we also provide gift cards upon completion because we believe hearing from clients is so important. Lastly, we have launched an overnight housing reservation system to allow individuals that are part of a conference or event to reserve and pay on their own."

UV: What is the health of collegiate conference programs as we head into 2018?
SC: "Very strong. As a whole, we offer truly unique spaces that clients are actively seeking, and we can do so in most cases for a great value, particularly for price-sensitive clients. Given that our campuses are designed to support and deliver a product for degree-seeking students, we have access to a truly unique product, including state-of-the-art classrooms and meeting facilities; unique and varied styles of overnight accommodations; and various catering/dining options to meet a wide variety of needs."

UV: What are some of the industry trends you and your team are identifying?
SC: "One thing we have noticed is that clients are busy and want to make quicker decisions, so we have found it important to have information readily available online, and have business systems in place to get back to clients very quickly with full pricing and availability. At times, clients also request to move to a contract without physically seeing a venue, which for us was a driving force in creating more videos and an expanded online presence. On a more serious note, we also wonder how travel and immigration restrictions by the U.S. Government will have an impact on international conference attendees and academic students. It's something that concerns me for our industry as a whole."

UV: How can planners start to integrate with campuses more?
SC: "One of the values a campus offers is we don't just provide a venue for a meeting, but we can also offer additional services to help support a planner's success. Instead of having to send a staff member to come onsite for check-in and actual management of the event, they can opt instead to outsource those needs with us. If they're already here renting and using our facilities, why not take advantage of the fact that we can co-manage the program with them? It's not something a planner can find in all cases at a hotel or conference center. That is a unique thing about our industry."

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Boston University
Boston, MA
(617) 353.3520