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UC becoming THE place to meet; new software simplifies reservations

April 29, 2003

The new Joe Morgan University Center not only serves as the University's social hub, it holds promise as a new economic centerpiece as well.

With its ballroom, executive dining rooms and numerous meeting and reception areas, the 93,000-square-foot building is quickly becoming a favored gathering place, not only for campus events but for community activities as well.

"We get anywhere from 15 to 25 requests for facilities a day," says Andy Kean, who has served as director of the UC for a year. "We hold about 25 events a day in this building."
April 29, 2003

The new Joe Morgan University Center not only serves as the University's social hub, it holds promise as a new economic centerpiece as well.

With its ballroom, executive dining rooms and numerous meeting and reception areas, the 93,000-square-foot building is quickly becoming a favored gathering place, not only for campus events but for community activities as well.

"We get anywhere from 15 to 25 requests for facilities a day," says Andy Kean, who has served as director of the UC for a year. "We hold about 25 events a day in this building."

The pace slows only slightly when the workweek ends, as conferences, luncheons and presentations give way to proms, breakfasts and parties.

Managing more than 9,000 reservations a year isn't as simple as making notes on a calendar. "It's extremely demanding," Kean says. "You have to see what's happening in rooms on either side. What events back up to what events. We may need to allow time to clean or prepare the room."

Until recently, getting from start to finish has been a multi-step process of soliciting information from callers, inputting the information into a computer, determining which space was most suitable, checking the availability of the space, putting it on reserve and confirming the booking with organizational representatives, who, until confirmation called frequently, often very frequently, to check on the status of their reservation.

That process now has changed. With the University's acquisition of a new server and updated event management software, the acquisition of space in the UC begins not with a ring but with a click. Prospective "reservists" log on and input information about their planned event. The request goes into a "holding pen" until Kean and his staff review it "to see if there are any issues." Once possible difficulties are resolved, the reservation is confirmed by e-mail.

The new system will be a huge timesaver, Kean says. "We can handle requests without reentering any information, therefore processing them much quicker."

The greatest benefit is that people can log on anytime to check the status of their reservation. "It reduces the number of phone calls we get with people saying, 'Did you get my reservation? Are you working on it?' It allows people to have more control," Kean says.

The process works the same for all reservation requests, whether they come from someone on campus or off. "You just go to today's events, click on that, and it will take you there," Keans says. "Takes about five minutes for an easy reservation and 10 minutes, max, for a more complicated one."

With rental fees ranging from $50 for a regular-size meeting room to $750 for the ballroom, the financial promise of the facility is significant.

"Our ultimate goal is to make enough to sustain the operation of the building," Kean says, "about $100,000 annually.

"Of course," he says, raising an index finger of caution, "we're not even close to that yet."

But with an average of five rentals by off-campus organizations per month, and word of the facility's dining, dancing, exhibit and meeting areas spreading like butter on a hot roll, it's only a matter of timeand space.