Conference centres have come a long way with their customer service values and general standards of delivery, so much so that UK venues have a good average standard. Visit any conference centre and the facilities, food & beverage, staff and audiovisuals will all be at a good level of service. And, we now have several means of recognising excellence through schemes such as the Meetings Industry Association and Conference Centres of Excellence, and recognition that staff are trained to WorldHost standards. So the short answer is yes.
However, a thought struck me the other day; whilst the industry delivers excellent customer service, do we think hard enough about the actual needs of our clients. Walking around a graduate assessment day hosted by us recently, I was struck by two things: firstly the quality of our young graduates and the competition for acceptance on a graduate scheme, but secondly, and more relevantly, had I thought enough about the environment for these candidates, essentially the delegates of my client?
In this instance, the candidates were in a high-pressure situation, moving between testing interviews and assessments with periods of waiting in between. The fact that we had provided a comfortable private place to assemble and try to relax whilst preparing for the next psychological test was indicative of CEME as a business venue. What would I have done if we had been a public area?
Privacy and confidentiality are by-words in our vocabulary when meeting clients, but there are some industries and situations that require careful consideration. Are defence and security companies comfortable meeting at a venue where the public have access? David Hopps, Managing Director of DHA Global, comments: “I frequently attend meetings where there is a requirement to network or hold specific discussions with other delegates. As an ammunitions management company, I find it difficult to hold a detailed conversation about the reverse engineering of a torpedo in Eastern Europe when at the next table there is a family having tea whilst waiting for their flight. To me it is simple, a venue that is exclusively a business facility offers the best option for privacy and confidentiality for an industry such as ours to go about its business.”
The same goes for the pharmaceutical industry, high-tech companies and any organisation that requires a degree of privacy. And of course it may not necessarily be the content of the meeting that requires consideration but the reaction of third parties to the fact that the meeting is being held at all. Do we have the procedures or skills to protect our venue from the publicity associated with protestors or intrusive oversight by the media?
Clearly, controlling entry to a hotel conference venue is fraught with issues, so I am comfortable in the fact that we are an exclusive business venue where the public don’t have unfettered access. However, I am now going to set time aside to review our procedures for privacy and confidentiality.< Back