People's Stories | Sam Horsnell

Sector

Conventions and Incentive

Training Pathway

Completed:
Conventions and Incentives - Foundations for Success

Working towards:

National Certificate in Tourism (Conventions and Incentives) Level 4

Doing a qualification on the job not only enables you to take a fresh look at all your processes, but it also gives a great opportunity to take a critical look at your venue and facilities compared your competition, and see what you need for your business to excel.

For a successful and thriving conventions and incentives business it's as much about what happens outside of the conference room as what happens inside.

Sam Horsnell, Conference & Events Manager, Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands, Paihia said: "A lot of the work is in building successful relationships to enable you to offer an experience tempting enough to pull conventions out of the main urban centres."

Sam is the first person to enrol on the new National Certificate in Tourism - Conventions and Incentives (Level 4) course. She has been in her current role for five months, but has been working in the sector for more than two years. Previously she was the conference co-ordinator at Millennium Hotel Queenstown.

She recently completed the Conventions and Incentives – Foundations for Success qualification, the credits from which count towards the National Certificate.

She said: "The Foundations for Success course went into the details of the things that you usually take for granted and just almost do automatically. Undertaking a qualification on the job not only enables you to take a fresh look at all your processes, it also gives a great opportunity to take a critical look at your venue and facilities compared to your competition and see what you need for your business to excel.

"Embarking on the National Certificate I'll hopefully learn more about the sales and marketing side of the convention and incentive role, which could then eventually lead into hotel operations and management."

Sam currently manages conventions and events ranging from 10 guests to around 400 at six different conference areas at the resort.

She said: "It is a job I came into from another role and found that I loved it. It's great to work one on one with people at every step of the events process from inception to delivery. It's really rewarding when you look over the feedback forms at the end and they are all positive.

"Time management is a critical skill, as you tend to be working on more than one project at a time, and it's all about providing a timely, responsive service and building up a level of trust with your clients. Teamwork is also critical to the success as you really have to trust and rely on other team members and contractors to help deliver."

Sam also works with businesses in the wider community offering services such as outside catering as well as activity planning to offer delegates more than just a meeting room.

She said: "Building relationships with local businesses means that we can sell the whole town as an extension of any event. Most people who come to us are usually looking for something extra.

"That could be anything from arranging helicopter flights, offsite catering at external venues to planning delegate activities during their free time.

"Ensuring I have the local contacts enables us to offer something more than just a venue, and it's good for local business as well."

This is important as Sam sees every visitor and every delegate as a potential client. The hotel recently hosted a national convention for franchise owners and Sam recognised that every one of those delegates has their own franchisees and could possibly need convention or incentive facilities in the future, so it was important to give them the best possible experience.

"The hotel industry is a great one to work in, I love working with a great group of people that feel like an extended family."