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The training venue - does it matter?

“Terrible – dowdy – heating all over the place!   Identical lunch for 3 days.  Wi-fi poor.  No natural light, rooms miles apart, car parking extortionate AND dirty!!”  You may not have heard all of these grievances post programme, and possibly not all at once, but they will probably sound all too familiar if you’ve ever attended or delivered a training programme. 

Can the venue impact the programme?

We deliver programmes in many types of venues: hotels, conference centres, clients’ premises – sometimes the choice is out of our control.  If the venue does not meet expectations, it can most definitely have a detrimental impact on the outcome of the programme.

Think about when you go on holiday – imagine arriving at your accommodation after a long drive or flight for example, upbeat and hopeful, and eager to get your holiday started.  You’re excited as it’s the start of a week of relaxation, so you approach the reception desk to check in and are greeted by a rude receptionist who makes you feel like you’re ruining their day.  How does that then impact the rest of your trip?  Does it make any small issue during your stay seem more significant?  Do you find yourself focusing only on the negative?  Are you ready to jump on Trip Advisor and share your horror story with the world?!

Perhaps less dramatically, it’s the same when we deliver a programme.  Quite often delegates will make comments regarding the venue in the post-programme evaluation, even if the question is not venue related.  Things like the syndicate rooms being far away from the main room, the food being below standard or unhelpful staff for example (I could probably fill a book with negative venue comments).  This can all contribute to how a person evaluates the programme overall.  Their comfort, the amenities and most certainly the quality of the refreshments play a big part of their overall training experience.

For a facilitator to spend much of their time trying to solve venue-related problems and appease disgruntled delegates doesn’t seem the most valuable way to manage their time; we do our best to smooth things over (but we can’t always work miracles).  This kind of unwelcome distraction during a programme can mar the entire experience for everyone.

So what can we do?

  • Give the venue the feedback in the moment – they can’t improve if they aren’t informed and most venues would care about receiving a negative review
  • If it’s a venue you will be returning to because of a bulk booking, make friends with the events team.  If you can get them on your side, you may be able to engineer the best training rooms, a better lunch, even the best bedroom for yourself J
  • If the venue is booked by a third party, let them know if the venue needs to be avoided in future
  • Keep a list of venues to be avoided and why
  • Keep a list of the decent venues too – and let them know!  There’s nothing like great feedback through Twitter or Facebook to build networks and good working relationships.

There is only so much we can do to reduce the impact of a bad venue on the programme outcomes, but we can certainly try and mitigate the risk.  We might not be able to manage a ‘dirty’ car park but we can surely influence what’s on the menu to ensure a contented group of delegates!