It’s in the eyes!

From the onset of any hospitality training, all employees are taught to use their smiles. It’s what we do. We enthusiastically greet you with a “welcome to our facility smile”, we continue to warmly share our “we are glad that you are here smile” during your visit, and we provide you with that special “see you again smile” upon your departure.

Covid-19 presented us with a challenge. It forced us to mask our smiles. However, as always, CDEC utilized the back up plan, and we were soon reminded that although our mouth smiles were masked, we have the ability to smile with our eyes.

And so, we smile. We smile behind the mask. We know that you see us, because your eyes smile back.

At CDEC we view every challenge as a learning opportunity.

This pandemic has taught us to make even more of a human connection, to continue to respect and care for our fellow human beings, to recognize and care for those in need, and to continue to do what we do in the service industry….to cater to you, and to continue to do so regardless of the circumstances.

Our smiles might be covered, but they are still here….you just have to look a little closer.

As Covid-19 slowly says good bye, and we hope that it happens soon, we will look it directly in the eye with a message that we will never convey to another, “do not return”.

Level of Detail

If you ever get the chance to take a peek at the behind the scenes level of detail of a CDEC housekeeper, you will truly be amazed.

You might be thinking that cleaning a hotel sleeping room is just the same as cleaning at home.

Nope.  Not even close.

There is a system, a set of guidelines, and a white glove room check with every check in, every stayover, and every check out.

Our housekeepers take their jobs very seriously, and they take pride in knowing that a thoroughly cleaned and well-maintained environment gives each of our guests a feeling of comfort, safety and enjoyment.

We recognize that the recent concern of COVID-19 brings additional heightened concerns, but we would like to remind all of our guests that not only do we meet all required precautions, we exceed them.  We do so, because we have already had years of practice in place with regard to the highest cleaning standards possible!

Our high standard of room inspections sets apart from others, and it is our pleasure to show off our level of cleanliness!

Steps to organize a conference

Let’s face it.  Being in charge of an event is intimidating, especially for you first timers.

As I have said before, no worries.  We got you.

Okay, so we obviously think that it is a no brainer to choose CDEC as your venue.  However, because we are completely customer service oriented, even if you don’t choose us, here are some tips (and there are several) to point you in the right direction towards a successful event.

First and foremost, you must choose your venue wisely.  Customer service is EVERYTHING.  If your first inquiry with a potential property is met with a rude employee, let that be your decision.  If they are rude in the beginning, imagine what it will be like during the whole planning process.  Cross them off of your list, immediately.  (For the record, there are no rude employees at CDEC…just sayin)

Next, schedule a site visit.   It will be a significant advantage for you if you take the time to visit the hotel/conference venue that you are considering for your event.  After your visit, you will be equipped with a visual base which can be utilized towards the planning stages of your conference, including becoming familiar with the distance between sleeping rooms and conference space, the size of the conference rooms, the location of special events, access from the conference location to the exhibit/vendor halls, the cleanliness of the property, and the overall organization and customer service.  If you have been speaking with a hotel representative over the phone, a site visit also allows you the opportunity to put a face to a voice, and to meet your hotel Point of Contact, aka your lifeline, the person assigned to assist you from beginning to end.  This person will be helping you put out any potential fires, so it is really a great idea to meet them (face to face) prior to your conference.

Once you have chosen your preferred venue, it is vital that you designate only one point of contact from your team, and one point of contact from your hotel venues team with all communications going forward.  This way, there are no wires crossed on either end in terms of requests and expectations.

Now is the time where you begin to develop a relationship and a check list with your hotel Point of Contact.  Your first discussion should include the number of guests at your event, how many will be staying overnight vs how many commuters, what day advance guests or event planning team will check in, what day your main body will check in, and what day all guests will check out.  You will also need to discuss requirements in regards to General Session and breakout rooms, as well as audio visual and meal needs, and any additional requirements or preferences.

After your site visit and all of your requests are discussed, your hotel Point of Contact will send you a cost estimate to include everything as it relates to your conference.  (sleeping room, conference room, meal and any incidental costs).  Be sure to keep in mind for budgeting purposes, that this document is only an estimate, as often times you might have guests who add on at the last minute, or any other variety of reasons resulting in increased hotel and meal costs. 

The next step is to take the time to dot every I and cross every T.   Review, review, review.  The best way for an Event Planner to ensure success is to make a check list and start from the beginning.  Your check list should include, but should not be limited to the following: 

Lodging:  When compiling your conference RSVP details, be sure and maintain a spreadsheet to include names as well as arrival and departure dates for each of your guests.  When providing this information to the hotel, a simple worksheet to include last name, first name, check in date and check out date is best.  This type of basic spreadsheet allows less room for error as opposed to color coded sheets providing a multitude of information.  Another best practice is to collect information from the hotel regarding what types of sleeping room amenities are included (wi-fi, coffee pots, hair dryers, bed types, irons, ironing boards, mini fridge, etc).  This way when your conference attendees ask you, you will know the answers in advance.

Audio Visual/IT needs:  Ask all of your presenters to provide you with their audio-visual requirements by a specific due date, well in advance of your conference. Providing this information to the hotel Point of Contact in advance helps to ensure communications around what types of requests might require additional outsourcing.  Often times IT department representatives will inquire as to what types of laptops presenters plan to use in terms of compatible hookups, etc.  Obtaining this information from all presenters will also be to your advantage. 

Meals:  Some of your guests may have food allergies/meal restrictions.  Be sure to inform your hotel point of contact of any special meal requests in advance as catering to these types of requests requires preparedness.  In the event that the specific meal request cannot be accommodated, it is also important that you determine the exact restrictions of the guests who have food allergies, so that a safe alternative may be provided.  You will also need to be sure that you provide the hotel with accurate meal counts to include all guests who will be participating in any of your meal functions.  There are times when guests might not be attending every meal.  Inquire with each guest as to which meals they will be attending, so that you can provide the hotel with an accurate head count.  If you have a preferred linen color, preferred seating, or preferred way of the order in which guests are served during catered event, this will also need to be communicated.

Printing:  Because some hotels do not have large printing capacity on site, make sure that your facilitators prepare all hard copies prior to your event.  In addition, send all applicable hard copies to the hotel “labeled as belonging to your conference” well in advance of your conference date. 

Transportation:  Some hotels provide complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport, if the location is a short distance.  If the venue that you have chosen does not provide shuttle service, and your attendees will be using rental cars, it is important that you provide them with directions for the easiest route from the airport to the hotel. 

Attire:  Not only is it important that you provide communication to your attendees around your organizations preferred dress code for your conference, special events, and potential team building activities, but because conference room temperature can vary, it is also important to advise them to dress in layers, with a light jacket or sweater that can be removed if needed.

Do not be afraid to reach out to your hotel Point of Contact with questions or guidance during your planning stages.  Remember, this is your go-to person.

Once all of the needs are discussed and met, it’s contract time.  When reviewing the contract, make sure that it includes everything that you have discussed, and that both parties have signed the document.  In addition, it is vital that you fully understand any cancellation penalties regarding food and/or sleeping rooms, so that you are prepared.

Okay.  This is HUGE.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, communication is key. If you send one company wide email to all attendees with key takeaways from the above information, including the name, address and directions to the hotel, check in and out times , whether or not a credit card is needed at check-in, registration table location for collection of agenda and materials, a reminder of the conference start and conclusion time, the weather report during the time in which your conference will take place, hotel restaurant hours of operation, whether or not there are snack bar options accessible before and after restaurant hours, vending soda machines, sleeping room amenities, directions, distance from the airport, shuttle service information, hotel parking costs (FYI, CDEC parking is free), wi-fi costs (Yep, wi-fi is also free at CDEC), pool and fitness facility information and hours of operation, gift shop details, special event times and location, attire, and your direct contact information, you will easily eliminate any unanswered questions that your attendees might have.

So, there it is.  There are some additional obvious suggestions related to each individual conference plans, but for the most part we have provided you with every step towards success. 

Oh, wait.  There is one more vital suggestion to ensure that your event will be a huge hit, and that, my friend, is that you that you choose CDEC as your venue.  I mean, hey, we know what to do, and we just shared most of it with you (with the exception of a few of our secret ingredients), so why not allow us to assist in make your event a huge success?!

You’re welcome. 🙂

See you soon!

How?

Have you ever attended a conference where everything was just absolutely spot on perfect?  You know, the ones where they spelled your name right on your sleeping room reservation, where the timing of the snack breaks were perfectly meshed into the agenda just when your brain absolutely could not download yet another new topic until you consumed more caffeine.  Where the food smelled, looked and tasted delicious, where the bedrooms and facility were incredibly clean, where you weren’t hit with all of the additional wi-fi and parking charges, and where the front desk agent actually had a personality? 

Did you ever reflect, and think, “how could they have possibly made everything look so seamless?”

One word, folks.  Communication.

Your event planner will do the fabulous job of the behind the scenes logistics, as will we, but enabling a flawless event requires a huge amount of clear communication.

At CDEC, we practice extraordinary communication, not only with our staff, but with our meeting planners, and our guests.

We warmly greet, we listen, we provide, and you return.

We get the job done the first time, so that we get the privilege to welcome you a second time.

Communication (or lack thereof) is what will make or break your event.  We believe that listening and paraphrasing from both sides is vital towards the common goal of a successful event.

CDEC utilizes the internal acronym UROCK for each of our employees, with the obvious subliminal message that they clearly rock.  The additional meaning of UROCK is Uplifting, Resilient, Optimistic, Courteous, and Knowledgeable.  CDEC staff and management consistently implement the UROCK goal, not only towards each other, but with every guest, every single day.    

Our staff cannot wait to greet you with their welcoming smiles from the moment that you enter our facility, to wish you safe travels upon your departure, and to welcome you back with gratitude!

WHAT NOW!?

Ahhh. So you were the luck of the draw, the “chosen one.” Your boss has just assigned you with the task of planning your next company conference or training. Congrats, but since you are reading this, I can literally feel your hesitance through the screen. You are probably thinking, “Great, WHAT NOW!?”

From experience I can assure you that not only is your boss counting on you to choose the perfect venue, but he/she is also counting on you to choose a venue which falls within your allotted budget. If this is your first time planning a meeting, I will also tell you this, get used to the title of “miracle worker”, because sometimes event planners are expected to squeeze blood out of a turnip.

Let me also tell you, and not because I work here, but if you are looking for the best bang for your buck, as in the right venue at the right price, you are looking right at it.

So, put your thinking cap on, grab huge amounts of your favorite caffeinated beverage, and prepare for the most time consuming, and possibly the most attention to detail experience of your professional career. For the record, not all meeting planners are official “event planners”. We recognize that a good majority of our planners already wear many hats at their current jobs, and that this is just an extra task piled on their plate.

I am going to post a more lengthy explanation later regarding all of the “how to’s”, but regardless of your current job title, if you have just been asked to take on the monumental task of planning an event for your company, you are going to need a friend to help you along the way. If you have chosen our facility, say hello to me, your new bff. Every event planner needs a side kick, the person who walks them through all stages from beginning to end.

I’ve got you. I won’t just assist prior to your event. I will be with you, onsite, every step of the way!

Take a look at our conference and event tab, solidify your preferred event date, and give me a shout! I look forward to speaking with you regarding sleeping room and classroom availability, as well as meals and special event ideas towards making your meeting a huge success.

See you soon!

Networking is key!

I will be sharing a logistical step by step post in the future in regards to dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s towards planning a successful meeting.

However, in the interim, I want to share a little secret with you.

Although the content of your meeting is of great importance, and all of your attendees will hopefully gain value in the materials that your training will provide, as a planner, you need to ask yourself one question.

What will my attendees remember about this conference? What is their main take away?

By nature, human beings like to enjoy themselves. They will value the seriousness and purpose of your conference, but after a long day of speaking engagements and participating in corporate discussions, they will need and want a break.

In comes your time to shine, and by default, time for your event to become a huge success!

Your evening dinner event will provide your participants with a much needed break, and with the opportunity to socialize and network. Enjoying fellowship with nourishment and beverage will allow your guests time to really get to know their colleagues, and time to foster lasting working relationships and memories.

But it’s not just about the food and drinks, and the right place to enjoy both, it is about ambiance. Think theme. Mr. Jones might not remember discussing company policies in a conference setting, but I can assure you that if the same conversation presents itself while his boss is particpating in a luau lesson, or wearing a mask and beads at a mardi gras celebration, the topic will be much more memorable. Believe it or not, valuable company issues can and have been discussed while the entire team is taking the time to let their hair down.

Let your attendees be given the opportunity to enjoy themselves, but be sure and provide them with a fabulously themed event to allow them to do so.

Remember, networking is key!

Why should you choose CDEC?

Why should you choose our location for your next conference?

Hmmmm.  To be honest, there are too many reasons to list, but I will give it my best shot.

Firstly, our staff is bar none.  We assure you that every time you encounter one of our team members, you will receive a warm greeting.  Not only do we provide our employees with extensive customer service training, but our HR Department purposely hires individuals who have the ability to “want” to provide a professional hospitality experience for each of our guests.

Second, we strive to foster an encouraging environment where every single one of our team members are made aware that they truly make a difference, and as such, they are held accountable and take pride in assuring that every area is in tip top shape in anticipation for the arrival of our guests, and that every service provided meets above standard expectations.

Lastly, it is our goal to assist in making your conference or training a success.  Your success is our success, and as a result, we will assist you during your entire conference planning from the inception to the conclusion (pre planning, on site coordination, post meeting).

After you take a moment to view our testimony and photo tabs, it is our hope that our website will aid in your decision-making process.

At CDEC we pride ourselves on offering personalized service, with vast knowledge of event planning.  Our flexibility in services, has allowed us to build strong client relationships, keeping our clients returning to us time and time again.  We always try to answer with a “yes.”  If there is ever a remote possibility of a “no”, we make every effort to offer an alternate solution. 

If you choose CDEC you will not be disappointed.

The New Norm

Hey, we get it.  Let’s just be real about the whole mask wearing thing.   As it applies to whomever, the masks are sometimes cumbersome, smash your ears if you don’t have the right fit, mess up the makeup, muffle your speech and make you sound like a mixture of Charlie Brown’s teacher and Darth Vader, stick to your beard or mustache, and are just completely awkward to get used to wearing. 

However, proving that our CDEC team can adapt to any challenge, as can our guests, and because your safety and ours is totally worth it, we have implemented guidelines and precautions regarding social distancing and wearing of masks.

Please rest assured that if you have confirmed a future conference at CDEC, that we will continue to adhere to all necessary adaptations to ensure that the health and safety of our guests is our number one priority.