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 IACC Press Release  Press 

Prestigious UCLA Conference Center Installs Maestro Suite from NORTHWIND



Realizes 20% Reduction of Accounting Workload, Gains State Audit Compliance

Pristine California Conference Center and Resort Earns 76% Group Return Rate; Sells Unique Two-Season Operation 10 Years in Advance

The exclusive UCLA Conference Center and Bruin Woods Family Resort, beautifully situated on the banks of Lake Arrowhead in the alpine forests of southern California, was not always a reputable business destination. The property's life began in the roaring 20's as the shady North Shore Tavern, a hideout where West Coast mobsters and Hollywood celebrities rubbed shoulders and drank during prohibition. Later, when its more scandalous clientele moved closer to town, the Los Angeles Turf Club acquired the property as a retreat for high-roller horseplayers and members. In the 1950s the old bootleggers' retreat finally achieved respectability as a lakeside resort. But the property's past echoes into the present day, and even now the UCLA Conference Center has two completely different personalities.

For nine months of the year the property operates as the exclusive UCLA Conference Center, a corporate meeting destination with a five-year waiting list for business and educational organizations. But the other three months it transforms itself to become the Bruin Woods Family Resort, a private, rustic get-a-way open only to graduates and full-time staff of the University of California at Los Angeles, UCLA. “The UCLA Conference Center hosts corporate meetings for many non-UC companies such as Nordstrom, Disney, UPS, and Marriott Hotels,” said UCLA Conference Center Director, Jim Turner, who also had a brush with the law early in his career, but as a police officer. “Fifty-six percent of our business comes from the University of California. During our conference season we are a corporate business-meeting destination that can accommodate groups of up to 200 people who take advantage of our beautiful meeting rooms, food and beverage, and audio/video facilities. It is not like the old days; groups are not allowed to come in and just throw parties. The core purpose for any meeting must be educational.”

Maestro Reduces Accounting Workload by 20%
The UCLA Conference Center has to run a tight operation because it is booked up to 10 years in advance for some dates. This puts a spotlight on the Conference Center's reservation system for both function space and sleeping rooms. “System accountability is central to our operation; our guests, and the State of California demand a very high level of accuracy,” said Turner. “We installed the Maestro Suite from NORTHWIND to automate our operation and it has proven to be strong enough to handle reservations for our two separate operations, and nearly as important, it brought us into compliance with State accounting requirements. The system also reduced our bookkeeping workload by 20% as a result of automating the Conference Center and Bruin Woods operations on a single enterprise platform.”

The University of California (UC) acquired the property with the stipulation that it be self-supporting. Another goal of UCLA was to provide a camp for UCLA Alumni families. In 1985 the conference season was reduced to nine months a year and the UCLA Bruin Woods Alumni Camp opened during the summer months. In order to accommodate the families the Conference Center completely reconfigures its guest rooms removing queen beds and installing bunk beds upstairs for the children. Bruin Woods provides faculty and alumni families with plenty of outdoor recreational activities like parasailing, hiking, horseback riding, fishing and water skiing, and is so popular that it has a four-year waiting list. The property's two-season strategy worked well, but there was always the problem of how to automate reservations and operations of its separate properties with different room types, occupancies, and numbering, and still have the accounting make sense to the State audit board.

Director Jim Turner describes the problem; “The Conference Center operates as two distinct businesses under one roof, which complicates how we automate our operation. Also, because the Regents of the University of California own us, State audit compliance is critical to our operation. We spent the last three years evaluating conference center systems and hotel applications that would raise our technology to industry standards and provide State accounting compliance. The only system measuring up to our requirements was the Maestro Suite.”

Since its property is unique, the UCLA Conference Center team wanted to partner with a system provider that could combine the automation of their two operations on a single application. Jim Turner, Conference Center Director, said, “We met with NORTHWIND and they evaluated our business practices. Based on our requirements they added functionality that gave us greater ability to estimate future demand and streamline bookings. Clients know our conference center is in high demand, and often they will ask ‘What do you have open in April 2006?' Maestro allows us to pull up a monthly calendar and a tape chart to quickly verify availability or suggest alternative dates. No other vendor offered to do this.” The Conference Center also uses the Maestro Sales and Catering Conference Center system to manage function room availability, create food and beverage banquet event orders, provide sales management, and maintain its inventory of audio and video resources.

Complete Technology Upgrade
Utilizing a single system for conference facilities and guest room management also created greater operating efficiencies in the Conference Center's outlets. The property maintains the Bear Wear clothing store, the Bear and Grill, and a crafts store, which are all now interfaced to their Conference Center front office system. When attendees purchase retail items, the point of sale systems in the outlets instantly post the charges to the guests' folio. In the past, these charges were hand-carried to the front office for posting, causing delays and possible inaccuracies. Conference Center Director Jim Turner concluded, “My goal is to bring the UCLA Conference Center up to the highest level of technology. The Maestro Front Office and Sales and Catering Conference Center Suite is just the beginning. We have installed a new PBX system to provide attendees with voice mail, and also allow housekeepers to upgrade room status from the guestroom telephones. We are expanding our HSIA access beyond The Lodge and meeting rooms into the guest rooms. And in the next 12 months the UCLA accounting system will be fully interfaced to our front office application to eliminate re-keying errors. Thanks to our system upgrades we can offer a higher level of guest service than we ever have before.”

NORTHWIND attended the Independent Association of Conferences & Conventions (IACC) Annual Conference, March 27-31 at Hilton DFW Lakes. If you missed us at the conference, please call us today for your live demo at (888) 667-8488.

About UCLA Conference Center
UCLA Conference Center offers the perfect mix of peace, privacy and business in its wood-nestled conference facilities in the San Bernardino Mountains, where groups from 10 to 200 guests enjoy fresh air, wild flowers, and 40 acres of pristine beauty. A full-service conference center operated by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Center's twelve meeting rooms are open for overnight conferences to any group with a serious meeting purpose. Arrangements are simple to make; conferences are easy to manage. The Conference Center is in operation every day from September through mid-June in a premier resort area a mile high in pine-forested mountains.

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