If you go back as little as 5 years, purpose-built conference venues were very different to how they are today. Whereas previously rooms needed to block out natural daylight to accommodate overhead projectors and slideshows, they are now bright, naturally lit, and well equipped venues, with access to up to date technology, fast WiFi, and full of all the resources you need to make the day run smoothly – at least the better ones are.
As a result of this increased offering provided by modernised conferences centres, there is now much more to consider when looking to organise a conference and book a venue. One of the more significant questions you may be faced with is whether you should be booking something that has residential facilities or not, particularly if you are looking to organise a conference that is going to last several days.
With the growing competition between purpose build conference centres and hotels to provide value for money for those organising conferences, the market has become crowded making deciding between a purpose build venue and a hotel difficult. As a result of this, purpose-built venues have been pushed to improve their services and facilities to retain customers and compete with hotels, above and beyond just the quality of the accommodation.
Deciding whether to go for a purpose built residential facility or a hotel is a major decision both organisationally and financially, with distinct benefits for doing so and not:
While non-residential venues mean your delegates can look forward to going home at the end of the day, it can sometimes mean they are not as focused than if you were to book a conference venue that completely removes them from their day-to-day routine – including their after work commitments.
Instead of panicking about picking the children up from school in time or what they’re doing for dinner, they will instead be able to focus their thoughts and energies on the subject at hand and give the conference their full attention – assuming they are able to commit to the event and make alternative arrangements for any dependants. This commitment also minimises situations where delegates who leave at the end of the day to go home or back to the office quickly forget what they have learnt and experienced as other things cloud their minds - lessening its impact.
Booking a venue with accommodation facilities allows delegates to continue discussing and absorbing the information they have received in the relaxed environment provided by the venue.
LESS TRAVEL AND NO NEED FOR A HOTEL
Organising conferences can be stressful as there is a lot to consider and plan. The logistics involved can be a major headache. Residential conference Venues eliminate a large part of this organisational demand by needing only one journey planned on any given day, freeing up more of your time. As you can book everything all in one place, if your conference overruns slightly there’s less worry about pre-booked taxis or ensuring your delegates get on the right train in time.
Unfortunately, conferences running over on time is a commonality and often, unavoidable. Trying to organise a number of people and their presentations into a set number of hours can be incredibly difficult which can present problems if you have booked accommodation off-site. This can often lead to talks being rushed, a lack of breaks, and lead to fatigued delegates - all of which are counterproductive.
However, you don’t need to worry about over running and messing up transport and hotel bookings when everything is in once place. The rigidity of the day is removed and you can allow the conference or training event to flow more naturally and run smoother.
Using a venue with residential facilities allows your delegates to use the time together to network and build better working relationships. It can be too easy in day-to-day life for employees to socialise and converse only with members of their own teams, which can build barriers within a business. Allow your delegates some time to network and team build after the conference so they can discuss the information across teams and realise how this might affect different departments or areas of the business. It will also allow them to come together to think about ways of improving efficiencies and the way they do things to help other departments.
On a less formal note, allowing your employees and delegates the time to unwind after absorbing the information they have been given and network on a personal level is also important. Here at Lane End, we have leisure facilities including volley ball, table tennis, virtual golf and the Cedar Club for delegates to enjoy. This allows them not only to refresh their minds ready for the following day(s), but also provides them with a wider experience to enjoy - so your conferences are associated with more than just sitting and listening.
NON RESIDENTIAL CENTRES
Conferences can be heavy-going and tough to sit through at times and often there is a perception that delegates want to leave it all behind at the conference centre and bed down for the night in a cosy hotel or B&B. However, in choosing a conference centre with the right facilities you will still be able to provide your delegates with a relaxing environment to unwind after a long day while minimising the admin and organisation involved in booking a hotel off-site. It also means that delegates are able to enjoy this time out together, allowing them to build stronger relationships within and across teams.
LOCATION & PARKING
Location is crucial when it comes to booking a conference centre and can make all the difference to the number of delegates that commit to going, particularly if you they are travelling from all over the country - or even from outside it. Choosing a location that works for everyone in term of distance and navigability is a big task and can be challenging, which is made even more difficult when you can’t find both a central hotel and conference centre with parking and good transport links. While residential conference centres are often not as central as hotels for example, they do often offer parking and bring the conference and accommodation together, making your life as the organiser much easier. This is also covered in our Get The Most From Your Venue page.
Cost is often a factor involved in wanting to choose a conference centre without residential facilities, or choosing not to use your conferences accommodation. However the differences in price are often made up for when it comes to booking travel to and from the conference centre, and the admin involved in booking off-site accommodation.
The time lost is also one of the biggest costs to consider - not only is moving 75+ delegates from one location to another logistically challenging and at times costly, it also means that 75+ delegates end up wasting their valuable time travelling to and from various locations. If you are looking to save money by booking accommodation separately from your conference facilities, ask yourself whether you really will be saving anything at all, or are in fact just complicating something that can be made quite simple because of the illusion of the cost saving involved.
Fortunately, Lane End is positioned in a location situated within easy reach of the M40, M25 and M4, within an hour of central London and 30 minutes from Heathrow airport, making it ideal to travel to in many cases.
Here at Lane End, we can accommodate both non-residential and residential training and conference events and can build a solution to your company’s exact requirements. We have facilities to hold up to 150 delegates on the day, and 104 en-suit rooms available to accommodate staying guests.