In any industry, it is important to periodically take time to network with industry colleagues, share insights and ideas and gain new perspectives to keep your business moving forward. In October 2018, Kinetic organized an experience for our customers to accomplish these very goals by way of a Study Tour in the United Kingdom, connecting conference and events professionals from the United States with three UK universities.
While each campus we visited was different, the agenda followed the same plan to ensure everyone was able to take something away from each location. Our hosts at the University of Kent, Royal Holloway University of London and Warwick University each provided their unique backdrop and scope of operation, allowing participants to gain a broad view of different approaches. Various functional areas were represented at each location, including senior management, sales, marketing, operations, housing, dining/catering and finance.
Each day started with a full group meeting to provide an overview of their venue and operation, which often sparked lively discussion around processes, procedures and policies. Small groups were then formed by functional area to allow participants to delve deeper into the conversation with peers at the host site who have similar roles. The conversations turned much more detailed and focused on resources, systems and history.
No study tour would be complete without a walk-through of some facilities and our participants were treated to experience some of the most beautiful locations to be found on any campus. From historical and traditional to modern and dynamic, our hosts showed us how each location draws from the past while looking to the future.
Each day closed with a final Q&A session to be sure no stone was left unturned. A full day of discussion, touring and comparing notes prompted some final thoughts and conversation before we said goodbye to our hosts to move onward to the next location.
With every visit, we all learned that, despite the cultural and geographical divide, we are more similar than different. Many of us face the same challenges and obstacles, but also celebrate the same achievements. We learned our host sites have been managing conference operations for far longer than any of our participants, which also allowed them to share mistakes made along the way, lessons learned and advice on how to avoid them.
The UK Study Tour has finished with an opportunity to stay for the our annual User Forum that has brought over 250 university and event professionals together to share their experience and inspiration. This year we have explored a variety of thought provoking sessions from industry leaders covering topics on student accommodation, health, well-being and mindset, and the impact of the commercial sector.
“I really didn’t know what to expect on the UK Study Tour. I came away refreshed and committed to improving our processes based on my conversations with our colleagues. The Commercial Services staff at each institution were so welcoming, candid and helpful in sharing their procedures, ideas and best practices. It was amazing to chat with other professionals who share the same passion as you. I was blown away by their hospitality and willingness to answer all of my questions. I gained more helpful information from this experience than I have from pretty much any other conference I have attended. I am so grateful for this experience.”
Megann A. Murphy, Associate Director of Event Services, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
By our final goodbye, our participants found themselves leaving with new connections, notebooks full of ideas and information and swirling thoughts of what and how to implement what they learned. With a mixture of exhaustion and excitement, participants and hosts alike walked away looking at things a bit differently than when they walked in, a sure sign of time well spent.