Gone are the days of dorm rooms and classroom-style meeting rooms. Today’s university conference centers offer facilities that can rival traditional conference centers, with first-rate accommodations, the latest in technology, often a beautiful setting and competitive prices. And they’re growing in number.
“Most new conference centers today are university centers. It looks like it’ll be that way for the next few years,” says Dave Arnold, co-president and chief executive officer-East of Colliers PKF Consulting.
“It’s almost impossible to finance a corporate conference center these days,” he continues. “University conference centers have more opportunities for funding sources. The pressure to make money in university centers isn’t quite the same as in commercial conference centers. They have a higher mission to support activities on campus than a typical conference center would have.”
More and more colleges are answering that mission with plans for new centers. Ohio’s Kent State University broke ground in September on the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center, which is slated to open in spring 2013. The $15 million project will have 95 rooms and 5,400 square feet of meeting space.
“The target market for the much-needed facility will be a mix of academic and business clients,” says Gene Finn, executive director of the Kent State University Foundation. “Two major companies are moving their headquarters to new facilities located across the street from the hotel and conference center and have already made inquiries into availability of the conference facilities. We also expect numerous Kent State academic departments to use the conference facilities as well, hosting national conferences on academic issues.”