Choosing a college or university campus to host a multi-day summertime sport conference or event ticks some important boxes for event planners—lots of inexpensive accommodation choices, easy access to a variety of sport venues and meeting rooms, and on-site catering—all in one spot.
It’s not surprising that Canadian post-secondary institutions are actively bidding to host sports gatherings. An event generates revenue during the quieter summer months. It’s a huge recruiting opportunity to attract future students, and it’s a great chance for all parts of the school and the community to work together for a common goal, says Don Clark, professor emeritus in the faculty of kinesiology and health sciences at the University of Regina. Clark coordinated event planning for the 2014 North American Indigenous Games (see the event profile on page 25).
“We want to attract events that support cross-cultural understanding and engage our students,” says Lisa Kwiatkowski, manager, venue partnerships and bookings in the department of athletics and recreation at the University of British Columbia (UBC). “When we hosted the Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in 2014, we had 1,000 student volunteers and dozens of different research studies underway.”
Key things to keep in mind when considering an on-campus sports conference or event
Daily accommodation fees range from about $35 to $200 per person, depending on whether you’re booking a basic dorm room with double occupancy or a VIP suite.
A number of schools are implementing specific websites for hosting sports groups. “It’s very helpful for streamlining and managing the complexities of booking rooms and meals,” says Teresa Rempel, CMP, CMM, director, groups, conferences and accommodation at UBC.
Some schools offer a kitchenette in a suite or common area, or complimentary breakfasts. Another route is booking the on-site catering team to provide daily meals. UBC, for example, has several food trucks to provide mobile meals such as rice bowls, premium sandwiches, fish tacos or fresh salads.
Classrooms and lecture halls are ideal for team meetings or reviewing game footage, but remember that a school’s summer classes are in session, so don’t assume you’ll have unlimited access to a room.
Rooms tend to be no-frills, which could mean shared bathrooms, no air conditioning, bed linens but no towels, and Wi-Fi only in common areas. On the other hand, some schools are offering new private suites that would rival a posh hotel room. Schools may be able to offer extras such as secure bike storage, a BBQ area or a movie room for downtime.
Some students (for example, international students) may be living in residence during the summer, so it’s important to respect their privacy as well as any rules about security or quiet hours.
If it’s a big campus, shuttle buses may be necessary. The level of event planning services varies by school, from booking-only to fully turnkey events.