The article below was written by Michael Kennedy and appeared in myvenues.co.uk
Positive attitude and out-of-town location boosts prospects for Lane End Conference Centre
Unlike most other venues, Buckinghamshire’s Lane End Conference Centre is experiencing a healthy upturn in enquiries from organisers. It’s the product of a determined response to current market pressures by providing even more value without compromising quality – and a location that’s close to the city but without all its penalties in terms of cost and hassle.
“We’re seeing a noticeable increase in enquiry levels for the current quarter, and for the first quarter of next year,” says Lane End’s sales and marketing manager Heni Fourie: “During economically challenging times the average client wants to save costs without compromising the overall experience: a need that we’re totally determined to address.”
Active and ever-improving
Lane End Training and Conference Centre is one of the country’s most progressive and versatile specialist residential venues. It’s set in 26 acres of lovely countryside in Buckinghamshire’s Chilterns but is under 30 miles from London and Heathrow, with easy motorway connections via the M40. It has 34 conference and meeting rooms and 104 bedrooms. Its extensive facilities - which include free wi-fi and 166 free car parking spaces - are spread across five distinct buildings. This means that organisers can book an entire building – including bedrooms, catering and conference facilities – for maximum privacy.
The economic situation hasn’t affected its determination to create even better facilities. Most recently, it has fully refurbished the conference facilities in its Wycombe Hall building and made structural changes to allow for more natural light and higher ceilings. It has also created The Cabin, an extensive games room with a comfortable lounge and bar.
Emphasis on flexibility
Lane End Conference Centre has reacted quickly to the changing profile of the sectors in which it operates. “We have seen a much greater demand for day meetings and shorter residential courses than in previous years, but we have managed to maintain business streams from all our top clients” says Heni: “The representation across industry sectors we have worked with in the past has also been maintained and the current downturn in Government business is not affecting us a great deal as the public sector only makes up a small percentage of our client profile.”
One significant strategic change has been the decision to accept corporate bed and breakfast bookings to increase bedroom occupancy at the venue. “This has worked really well for us,” adds Heni: “The modular design of our venue allows us to group together individual bed and breakfast bookings, whilst offering exclusivity in some of our other buildings to residential clients that need to be private.”
Big city standards at out of town rates
Another factor that’s working in favour of Lane End is that its rates and facilities enable organisers to dramatically cut the cost of conferences and meetings by moving out of the city – without compromising quality. It’s seeing a steady flow of companies heading out of London to find lower cost and better value … and the benefits of a peaceful rural location that guarantees calmer minds and therefore more productive conferences.
“We’re helping to put to bed the idea that you have to put up with less if you want to cut your costs,” explains Heni: “That’s simply not true. We provide just the same sophisticated levels of facility and comfort as the city, at much more accessible rates. That’s why we get delegates from all over the UK, Europe, the Americas and the Far East.”
And of course, there’s the traffic – or rather, the lack of it. “Companies think that just because their head office is in the city, then their conferences must be there as well,” said Mr Fourie. “But the reality is that most delegates simply do not live in the city centre. It is easier for them to get to a convenient rural location such as Lane End than it is to struggle through all the city centre traffic congestion.”