Emerging Trends in Meetings and Conventions Show Venue Selection Impacts the Success of Training Sessions

By Bruce Fears President, ARAMARK Harrison Lodging | December 12, 2010

Mounting evidence shows that the choice of venue and the physical facilities for learning can play a critical role in maximizing the success of a corporate learning program and/or training session's objectives.

Research has found that if the environment is bad, then people will generally perceive the training to be bad, regardless of content. And with new forms of training such as multi-sensory learning, e-learning, hands-on lab settings and blended learning, there are sure to be additional adjustments and enhancements beyond current certification standards regarding quantifying meeting ROI.

Presently, there are no established methods for quantifying the role a venue has on the success rate of training or meeting sessions. Until those methods are determined, the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), a not-for-profit, facilities-based organization whose mission is to assist members in providing the most productive meeting facilities around the world, utilizes a certification program for member centers. It mandates that active members comply with the 30 stringent standards of the universal criteria.

Certainly, IACC recognizes the role venue plays in enhancing the learning process. In fact, the organization inspects all of its member conference centers every four years to ensure compliance. The entire objective of the organization's 30 universal standards is to provide the most productive environments for adult learning.

IACC-certified centers are required to include amenities such as ergonomically designed chairs, tables that are non-reflective and allow at least 30 inches of space per occupant, a controllable level of lighting, and a dedicated conference planner. IACC-certified centers are also required to have dedicated conference rooms that are separated from living and leisure areas and are available to clients on a 24-hour basis for materials storage.

IACC-certified centers have the ability to provide a unique philosophical and conceptual approach to training that solely focuses on maximizing the learning process. In fact, both clients and guests have provided positive feedback and the results can be dramatic when guests experience the difference.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.