Located in the historic city of Canterbury is the University of Kent. With over 20,000 students and more than 5,500 being residential, the university has invested over £120 million in their accommodation in recent years, positioning them as one of the largest residential campuses in the UK. They have achieved numerous awards and recognition within the industry for the high standard commercial services they offer, including the following:-
- ‘Commercial University of the Year’ at the 2018 CUBO (College and University Business Officers) awards 2018
- ‘Student Accommodation Team of the Year (Universities)’ at the 2017 Property Week Student Accommodation Awards
- ‘Best University Accommodation for Groups' at the 2018 Group Travel Awards for the 11th consecutive year running
- The 2017 ACHOU-I digital marketing award for the student accommodation virtual tours
- Achieved an annual 4/5 star rating for the campus accommodation by VisitEngland
- A rating of 8.3 – 8.6 on booking.com for their summer B&B accommodation
The University of Kent is home to some fantastic facilities, including lecture theatres / concert halls for 20-500 delegates, up to 200 meeting and seminar rooms, a cinema, 14 catering outlets and extensive sport and leisure facilities. During summer 2018, they sold over 200,000 bed nights and hosted more than 495 events/groups.
Kevin Stuckey, Director of Commercial Services is responsible for a workforce of over 350 within student accommodation, conferencing, reception services, housekeeping, catering, HR, finance, sports, marketing, and the Arts. The student accommodation and conference teams operate under one unified management in order that they can control the bedstock on a year-round basis and maximise income. "The mission of the university from a commercial service perspective, is to deliver an unrivalled service and a campus lifestyle with passion, pride and professionalism,” says Kevin.
With an annual turnover of £47million, the commercial services activity is key to the overall success of the university. Summer conference business generates in the region of £4.5 - £5.2m through a range of market sectors and one innovative way they generate additional income is by working closely with the academic departments and delivering a ‘one-stop-shop’ event management service for them.
“Academic departments were coming to my team saying they want to hold a conference with us, but they simply didn’t have the administrative resource to handle it. This was a perfect opportunity for us to offer them a one-stop full event management service using KxRegistration,” says Kevin. From setting up web pages, dealing with payments, organising the badges and more, Kevin and his team generate further revenue by charging up to £35 per head for this service. In 2018, they organised more than 20 ‘one-stop-shop’ event management service packages for their academic departments.
In 2002, Kevin was looking for a software to assist with their conference and events business. There were several hotel systems out there on the market, but he wanted something that could handle the large number of bedrooms, meeting rooms and catering facilities the university is home to. The following year, student numbers dramatically increased, bringing forward the purchase of KX student.
“When looking for a suitable software, I knew it would need to be user-friendly for both the staff and the customers as well as being fast, flexible and offer value for money. But it’s not all about the software. Yes of course this must suit your needs, but it’s just as important to recognise the fact that you are likely to be entering into a business partnership for a considerable period of time. With Kx, I was confident that they would fully understand my business goals and aspirations and that they would work with us over the short and long term to develop and maintain a suite of products and services to support us.”
By 2003, the University of Kent had implemented KxCatering and shortly afterwards they had KxConferencing. “There were a few reasons why we chose Kx. The main reason for me personally was having the confidence in the company that they would deliver what they promise. I had that confidence at the time and it's turned out to be right decision,” says Kevin. Over 15 years later, they now have more than 14 Kx products.
In October 2018, Kevin was presented the ‘Kinetic Legend’ award at the User Forum 2018. Rob Turner, Managing Director at Kinetic, said “Kevin is well recognised in the industry for running an incredibly successful student and commercial team. He’s a huge advocate for Kinetic and is greatly respected by the team.”
The future of Commercial Services at Kent is exciting. A 150/200 bed hotel and conference centre is in the pipeline and the construction of the new “Kent Indoor Tennis and Events Arena” capable of holding up to 2000 delegates will be completed in December 2019 in good time for the Lambeth Conference who are returning to Kent in July 2020. The British Open Golf Tournament also returns to Sandwich in Kent in 2020 and the University accommodation and facilities is also used comprehensively for this event.