Paul Crooke, Conference, Events and Facilities Manager at GTG, a training provider with venues across the north, tells conference planners why he believes purpose-built venues have the edge over the everyday events space.
So… You’re looking for a venue. It’s the easiest thing in the world to book yourselves into a reasonably located, anonymous hotel located just of a major motorway junction. But be warned, you could be missing a golden opportunity to maximise the potential of your conference and the experience of your delegates.
There are an increasing number of purpose-built venues in the UK, either long-established like mine, or popping up around the rest of the country that specialise solely in conferencing and training. I should know, I work for one of them. While this isn’t a sales pitch for my venue, it is a pitch for our little corner of the events industry.
All of us in the purpose-built venues sector are free to focus specifically on our conferencing and training offer. We don’t have other distractions like wondering what time we need to open the bar, close the health club or how fluffy our pillows are. Our sole aim is to create the perfect environment for attendees to learn something new or brush up on old skills – which, let’s be honest, is the reason most delegates choose to attend a conference in the first place.
Because these venues focus on training as well as conferencing, it gives us a unique insight into what a good conference, good training and best practice all look like. I may not be walking in your shoes as a conference organiser, but I know which ones look best on you and what a good fit looks like.
The overwhelming feedback I receive is that my venue is the “perfect place to learn” and I know that customers appreciate the attention to detail offered and understanding of the importance of their outcomes.
All of us within our niche have specialities. My venue works heavily within the automotive sector, others focus on high-tech manufacturing, engineering or business skills. Some of us also run our own commercial courses, others provide a blank canvas on which to bring your event to life.
There’s an assumption that training and conference venues are slightly more sterile, and a little cold, compared to the glitz of a chain hotel with “great facilities” like spas and gyms, that throw around all the usual descriptors like “groovy inner-city space” and “character property” (a term I really dislike!).
But the truth is, conferencing is just part of what they do, a supplement to their main business and a way of them generating additional revenue, whereas businesses like ours exist with the sole aim of you leaving knowing more than you did when you arrived. People in our sector are incredibly passionate about the benefits of training, regardless of who is delivering it and what you are talking about.
Ultimately, it is about creating a space physically fit for your needs and given the choice between that anonymous hotel chain and a purpose-built venue designed around the delegate – the choice seems simple, doesn’t it?