Whenever the need for a conference or training event arises the discussion that occurs shortly afterwards is where to hold it – which inevitably leads to the debate on whether holding it internally or externally is the better option.
When considering holding an event off premises there are two primary areas of consideration – the venue, and the services it offers. One isn’t strictly bound to the other, but both should be thoroughly considered before making a decision
The venue is the obvious first consideration. Businesses will have specific criteria that must be satisfied for them to even consider using the venue in the first place; requirements such as the feasibility of its location, the number of delegates it can accommodate, its ability to host multi-day events, and presence of accommodation - onsite or nearby.
After those requirements are met, there are usually some secondary needs, such as what equipment is provided, eating arrangements, and the available leisure facilities. It is often only once these basic requirements have been satisfied that some of the more intangible factors come into consideration.
The reality is that the following three factors are often some of the most valuable reasons for using an external venue – and should be higher up on the list of priorities when looking to find a suitable venue.
1. Morale - One of the key benefits of taking your event offsite is the positive effect it has on the morale of those attending. Choosing an external venue demonstrates a willingness to invest in your attendees which doesn’t go unnoticed, making them feel valued and more important.
Employees that feel valued engage effectively. They will respond better to training exercises and absorb more of what speakers are trying to impart. Motivational talks will also gain greater traction on a more captive audience that’s willing to listen.
2. Focus - Taking your audience out of familiar surroundings also has the added effect of removing them from the distractions of their day to day activities, allowing them to focus on the day without breaking their immersion in the subject.
It is not at all uncommon for even board meetings being held on company premises to be interrupted by a phone call or situation that’s deemed worthy enough to demand the attention of someone in the room.
Being situated away from the office doesn’t have to mean a person is completely unreachable, but it does act as an added layer of insulation that helps test whether the issue truly is pressing enough. An external venue can be a worthy holiday from the office as much as anything else.
3. Flexibility – You could say the bywords for hosting events internally is ‘make-do’. Purpose built venues have the flexibility to tailor their facilities to your needs, ensuring everything is as it needs to be and not the other way around.
By placing the responsibility in the hands of a dedicated conference and training centre, you relieve yourself of the logistical concerns that come with ensuring everyone is taken care of. The additional benefit of having been freed of the concerns involved with running the event is that less of your time is wasted on trivial matters, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. This is also covered in our Get The Most From Your Venue page.
The darker side of the debate because it can often be overlooked and left in the shadows, dedicated conference and/or training centres have established connections to a wide range of knowledge and expertise through professional individuals and firms – endorsed through their extensive experience and feedback from clients.
4. Delivery – Some companies are blessed with extremely effective and capable employees who can train other staff excellently, but not everyone is so fortunate to have those resources in house. A professional trainer can help fill skills gaps or supplement those already in place. They combine an expert level of knowledge on a subject, with the skill and experience that comes from having trained or spoken to a wide diversity of teams and audiences.
Using the services of a professional provides an impartial viewpoint from someone not known to those taking part. Often a message can be diluted by the familiarity between trainer and trainee, speaker and listener. Having a relationship that is completely neutral ensures there is nothing to distract from the information being imparted.
5. Inclusion – In some instances when the services of a professional are not taken advantage of, the people entrusted with conducting the event could well benefit from partaking themselves.
Unfortunately it is impossible to do both and always results in a degree of separation from proceedings. Much the same way as someone filming an event never quite experiences it as fully as someone not seeing it through a filter, because there is quite literally a screen between them and what’s happening.
6. Time – By taking advantage of professional services, the burden placed on those running the event is lessened, freeing up more of their time to engage with attendees. It also means the event requires less company personnel to attend the event in order to facilitate it, reducing demand on company resources.
Otherwise as a by-product, having too many people present that are not directly taking part and are merely waiting on their next task can have the effect of making those who are engaging feel less committed. It can make some feel self-conscious of being watched, or push them to question why it appears only selected members are having to take part. It is best to have as many people who are there as possible be fully engaged.
The inescapable truth of holding a training program or conference externally is it has a cost above what the equivalent event would be if held on company premises - you are paying for external space, catering, and service. However, you undoubtedly gain so much more for doing so - as the adage says ‘you get what you pay for’.
The perfect setting, the ideal space, on-site leisure facilities, access to professional training, fully equipped rooms, excellent catering services, on-site accommodation, time efficient, distraction free – these are benefits that would be extremely difficult if not impossible to match inhouse.
What an external venue does is exponentially increase the value gained from the time, effort, and associated expense it takes in getting all the people necessary assembled in the same place at the same time.
These occasions can be rare and it is to take advantage of them. Ensure the time is used to its fullest potential by taking advantage of everything the venue can offer you, to elevate your event far above what can be accomplished in house.
By doing so the effect on your attendees will be all the greater for the added commitment shown towards them, rewarding you with their increased motivation pushing them further and higher, and their gleaned insights allowing them to see deeper than ever before.