June 14, 2004
Summer conferences bring visitors, income to
By Louise Donahue
A wave of visitors is on its way to campus this summer. They come in
all ages, and include everything from mountain bike salespeople to faculty-sponsored
academics to soccer players and cheerleaders.
The Specialized bike company is one of many groups holding conferences
at UCSC this summer. Photo courtesy
The cheerleaders may be especially appropriate: The financial impact
of summer conferences and sports camps is worth cheering about. Last
year, summer events brought in $3.5 million in gross sales for the campus,
said Martha Keeler, assistant director for Conference Services in Colleges
and University Housing Services.
Seventy-five different groups will gather at UCSC this summer, beginning
the week of June 20. Each year, the eclectic mix of events is a little
different. Funding for some academic conferences may be reduced now,
but music programs and bicycle camps have been proliferating in recent
years, said Keeler.
Future rock stars can jam to their hearts content at one of two
Soundwall Music camps, while others might prefer choir camp, or honing
their skills at the Mandolin Symposium, or even a symphony session.
In some cases, the topography of the campus is a special draw.
Specialized Bicycles is holding six sessions on campus for a worldwide
introduction of its 2005 product line. The product will be introduced
dealers, press, and the Specialized sales force, with hands-on training
available throughout the bike trails on campus.
Hosting commercial events poses a special challenge for Conference
Services, but such groups bring additional income and pay a higher rate
than nonprofit and academic programs, Keeler said. Everything
still has an educational component, but they use these facilities at
a different level. The Specialized sessions require considerably
more logistics than some academic programs, she noted, because they
are accustomed to hotels.
The mix of international visitors, youngsters, and senior citizens
keeps Conference Services hopping. Conferees arriving in the middle
of the night because of flight delays is commonplace, and the SARS outbreak
and homeland security regulations added new wrinkles in recent years,
Keeler said. Coordination with other campus units is also critical.
Were on call pretty much 24/7 since any number of snafus
can happen when no campus support services are available, Keeler
said. noting that Conference Services staff is supplemented by a student
staff of 30 over the summer.
Detailed information on Conference Services programs is available
online at http://www2.ucsc.edu/conference/
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