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Generating revenue while fostering a welcoming environment

Sabrina Lavoie, executive director of Budget Planning and Business Development, explains that the unit manages the business operations of the university.

“We look at our revenue-generating operations from a consolidated and strategic perspective,” Lavoie says. “These services include Hospitality Concordia, residences, parking, lockers and the Book Stop, Print Store and Art Supply Store.

“The Print Store and Book Stop successfully serve our growing community and contribute to the success of students by providing them with the materials they need to pursue their studies,” Lavoie says. “The bookstore is especially busy at back-to-school times in September and January, when thousands of transactions take place.”

She adds, “We’re a one-stop shop for all student needs for educational materials, supplies, swag and printing. We also help the community with their catering and event needs and help students find a home in our residences.”

A full year of activities

The most public face of Budget Planning and Business Development is Hospitality Concordia, which runs Event Planning and Food and Beverage Services. In 2018-19, Hospitality received 9,766 space requests, fulfilled 2,400 event requests and provided planning services for 450 events. As always, the university hosted a number of national and international conferences.

Among them was the 15th edition of the Institut du Nouveau Monde – École d’été, which came to Concordia in August. The leaders of Quebec’s political parties joined the conference’s Dialogue Jeunesse. “It was demanding to run, but with good planning and collaboration the event went very smoothly,” Lavoie says.

Oral History in Our Challenging Times, hosted by the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling in October, was the largest gathering of oral historians in North American history, with 756 participants. “It was a huge success,” Lavoie reports. “We were happy to contribute by assisting with our planning expertise.”

In November, the Concordia Food Coalition and the university co-hosted the 10th Resetting the Table Food Secure Canada Assembly, which brought together more than 750 people from across Canada, each working to improve food security, food sovereignty and food justice.

Other conferences included accessXchange, a knowledge exchange forum; Sustainability Across Disciplines, with the theme of Sustainability in the City and Beyond; and the Montreal Mini Maker Faire.

To better manage registration for international conferences, the unit initiated the Grenadine online registration system in collaboration with IITS and Financial Services. “The Montreal-based software greatly facilitates event registration, the creation of conference webpages and the availability of a mobile app for conferences and large-scale events taking place at Concordia,” Lavoie says.

We look at revenue-generating operations from a consolidated and strategic perspective.

Parking Services also works to meet the needs of visitors and those studying or working at the university. “We are proud to have Parking Services provide top customer service to our community,” Lavoie says. “During renovations and infrastructure work around our campus, we always try to find alternatives for clients, keeping them informed and addressing matters with a problem-solving approach.”

In 2018-19, Parking Services took over the responsibility of managing the secure bicycle facilities on campus. In alignment with Concordia’s upcoming Sustainability Action Plan, the unit aims to increase spaces dedicated to bicycles and the availability of recharging stations for electrical vehicles.

“We recognize that members of the community travel to our campuses in various and increasingly sustainable ways, and we want to be responsive to that while promoting environmentally responsible means of transport,” she adds.

Community engagement

Funds generated by Hospitality Concordia go back to more than just the university’s budget.

Through the Emergency Meal Plan program and with the support of a number of other university departments, in 2018-19 Hospitality Concordia distributed more than $4,500 worth of meal plans, meal coupons and other food-related donations to students in need.

Proceeds from other Hospitality-organized events, including Taste of a Good Cause, holiday lunches and sugar shacks, raised more than $2,200 for the Student Emergency Food Fund and other causes.

Through its contract as Concordia’s food services provider, Aramark directs $40,000 every year toward student scholarships, bursaries and other student initiatives, such as the Student Parent Centre and ConUHacks. Coca Cola, the university’s beverage supplier, also sponsors some $22,000 in student scholarships, bursaries and beverages.

“Our suppliers are important partners and make significant contributions to student life,” Lavoie says.

Indeed, from its interactions with the community at events, its stores, residences and beyond, Budget Planning and Business Development contributes to all university life.

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