Why modern training venues get it right

David Taylor of Grass Roots Events explains how conference centres have improved the services they offer.

Image credit: iStock
Image credit: iStock

David Taylor is the divisional managing director of Grass Roots Events

------------------------------

When I first started working in the industry, neither residential nor non-residential training centres had the best of reputations. More often than not they were either bleak, purpose-built buildings in city centres or old manor houses, schools and the like, bought cheap by organisations for internal use and then given a lick of paint and little else.

Fast-forward to today and training centres are often a very different beast. Now owned and operated by specialist companies, the best conference centres are of a good four-star standard with natural daylight, excellent Wi-Fi and a wide range of onsite technology. The training rooms are ergonomically designed with blinds, modern, comfortable furniture and state of the art whiteboards screens etc.

Focussed

Training venues have the advantage of being wholly focused on the delegate experience, while hotels have to satisfy a wide range of guests needs. Food, for example, at dedicated training centres is usually lighter with soups, salads, fresh bread, fruit and snacks readily available. Coffee is of the proper roasted variety, and a wide range of soft and energy drinks are offered as alternatives. Convene; operators of non-residential training centres in the US are now using gourmet chefs to actively promote the cuisine in their restaurants.

Location

Location is critical when choosing meeting space for training, with attendees wanting somewhere close to their office and easy to commute to. Companies such as etc.Venues now have a very good stock in the city, an area where hotels have struggled to meet demand. Price-wise, training centres make sound economic sense too, with rates usually around 20% cheaper than in a similar hotel.

Service

Surplus office is regularly sold for training, but this does not usually make for the best meetings rooms. When choosing a venue, you want a professional service from start to finish and I’m not overly keen on training venues where food is sourced externally. Service standards should be in line with comparable hotels and not an afterthought. 

Many residential conference centres take weddings, association business and leisure bookings to supplement their trade and while this may make sense financially, to my mind it somewhat defeats the purpose of using a training centre in the first place. If I wanted a crowded reception, lively bar and other distractions then I would have used a hotel to start with.

Future

Luckily though help is at hand. The specialist agent will know the training sector as well as they know their hotels and can negotiate excellent rates and terms and conditions, while ensuring the venue is being used exclusively for training. Our use of training centres has significantly increased each year and will account for £20 million of our spend in 2017, in the UK and overseas. The simple fact is that clients realise conference centres now tick far more boxes than hotels when it comes to hosting training courses.

For more breaking news and in-depth features, sign up to C&IT's daily News Tracker here.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Register now
Already registered?
Sign in
Top Banana hires non-executive director

Top Banana hires non-executive director

New addition brings more than 30 years experience to the agency and will mentor and advise the leadership team.

Why there's been a surge of new hotels in Perth

Why there's been a surge of new hotels in Perth

Its pristine beachfront rivals California, with massive investment in tourism creating new hotels and jobs.

Case study: Hamburg hosts two global conferences in one week

Case study: Hamburg hosts two global conferences in one week

Global Investigative Journalism Conference and INMA Media Innovation Week took place in September.

Introducing the C&IT Awards Americas

Introducing the C&IT Awards Americas

As C&IT expands its reach globally, we're launching the C&IT Awards Americas to recognise the best in US events.

12 brand new US hotels opening in 2020

12 brand new US hotels opening in 2020

From festival-chic Coachella to foodie-heaven Chicago, Visit The USA picked out the 12 most exciting places to stay next year.

The simple secret behind creating 'magical' events

The simple secret behind creating 'magical' events

APAC industry leaders share some of the best and most memorable moments they have created at events.

In pictures: C&IT Incentives Retreat 2019

In pictures: C&IT Incentives Retreat 2019

Event planners, venues and destinations joined C&IT for two-days of activities, sessions and meetings at Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa.

Top 3 reasons corporates work with agencies

Top 3 reasons corporates work with agencies

From finding specialist skills to gaining new perspectives, corporate event planners share the top reasons they work with agencies.

Dear C&IT: 'We all need to cut down on food waste'

Dear C&IT: 'We all need to cut down on food waste'

Julia Charles Event Management managing director says planners need to do more to fight food waste at events.

Case study: DHL's employee of the year event in San Francisco

Case study: DHL's employee of the year event in San Francisco

Part five of our State of the Industry: Corporate Report is an in-depth look at DHL's big three-day event for its staff.

LATEST JOBS