One Stop, Two Goals

Conference Services hosts camps/conferences and provides experience for students in Hospitality Services

The lazy dog days of summer? Not here at Georgia Southern University, when thousands of visitors arrive on campus for youth camps, sports and academic programs, conferences, seminars and many other events. Conference Services, a little-known University gem, prides itself on accommodating the needs of these guests. “We operate under the Division of Auxiliary Services and do a multitude of things,” said Amy Cribbs Taylor (’02), Conference Services’ assistant director. “Think of the University as a resort with 5,500 beds in eight different residence halls, two dining halls that seat over 1,200 people, athletic fields, ballrooms, a museum, a wildlife center, planetarium, golf course and a botanical garden just to name a few resources that are mostly unused during the summer months except for our summer school students. Our role is to fill those spaces.”

Single Point of Contact
Conference Services is a certified “one-stop shop” operation. The “one-stop” designation provides clients and guests a single point of contact for all facilities and resources including, meeting spaces, transportation, internet access and onsite management. It also oversees other events such as commencement for Ogeechee Technical College and the Bulloch County Board of Education. And it partners with the City of Statesboro to bring in larger groups such as Georgia Soccer.

In addition, Taylor said Conference Services is tasked with bringing in revenue to offset the costs for students. “We also aid in student enrollment by bringing thousands of guests to campus during the summer months,” she added. “We want to showcase what a beautiful campus we have. We want every guest who comes to campus to have the True Blue experience and to want to come back to be an Eagle.”

The staff is comprised mainly of dedicated Georgia Southern undergraduates. By offering these opportunities to students, Conference Services supports teaching and learning outside of the classroom at Georgia Southern. These students gain valuable hands-on experience for careers in the hospitality industry.

“We give students developmental opportunities to work with clients,” Taylor said. “They learn everything, from working on contracts to thinking on their feet quickly. They work autonomously and learn how to provide great customer service that exceeds expectations. When hiring students, we want someone who loves Georgia Southern, has lots of enthusiasm, and who lives and exudes the culture here. We want them to be True Blue.”

Exceptional Student Training

Amber Mann (’15) is a True Blue Conference Services alumna. The native of Stone Mountain, Georgia, majored in business with an emphasis in hospitality management. Now employed by Starwood Hotels, Mann said her student employment was life-changing. “It opened me up to a world of Conference Services, which I knew nothing about,” she said. “I learned a lot about myself and how to establish relationships with people from all backgrounds. I gained so much knowledge from my superiors and my peers throughout my time. This experience truly made my last two years of college amazing, and if I could go back and do it all over again I definitely would.”

As an intern with Conference Services her senior year, Emily Paul (’16) assisted in day-to-day operations by monitoring the office’s social media sites and discovering new ways to promote business. She also helped with creating promotional materials like email blasts, brochures and ads. “My experience with Conference Services improved my communication and interviewing skills, and it introduced me to the world of event marketing,” Paul noted. “I am certain I would not have been as prepared for my current position in the event marketing department at Gulfstream Aerospace without this opportunity.” The Guyton, Georgia, native said she would recommend other students to work as an intern for Conference Services because it is such a fun and encouraging environment. “I met new people, gained confidence and had an overall valuable experience,” she said. “It is also a great way to represent Georgia Southern University.”

Conference Services strongly encourages Eagle alumni to bring their own groups to Georgia Southern. Torri Jackson (’99, ’02,) is a student services support specialist for the Liberty County Georgia School System, and the president of the Georgia School Counselor Association. Last year, she held the group’s annual summer leadership conference at her alma mater. “The facilities were awesome,” Jackson said. “We had everything we needed, from assistance with check-in at the residence hall to technology support at the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center. Everyone was friendly and extremely helpful. We also received comments from our attendees about the great food as well.”

Former Eagle cheerleader Deontai Price (’11) operates a cheerleading gym in Rincon, Georgia, and has organized summer cheer camps facilitated by Conference Services. “I am busy running a business so they take care of everything and make sure all of our needs are met,” he said. “My kids love being in the residence halls and walking and exploring the campus. I love Georgia Southern with all my heart and being. Being at Georgia Southern was one of the best times of my life, and I met my best friends. I would love for all of my kids to attend Georgia Southern. We have camp there so that I can let them experience campus. I want them to fall in love with my university and decide if they want to attend.”

Conference Services is committed to making every event a success and works with clients from start to finish. “We want to make our Georgia Southern family and graduates aware that they can come back to campus,” said Taylor. “Anything you need is what we do.” — Sandra Bennett