Service with a smile?

first_img Comments are closed. Service with a smile?On 26 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today The conferences sector has come a long way from servicing long, boring,boozy days cooped up in a hotel. But with limited training resources, has it gotwhat it takes to deliver the technology, flexibility and people today’sorganisers are demanding?Location and value for money have always been high on a conferenceorganisers’ list of priorities, but today quality of service is just as likelyto be up there on the wish list.Figures from the latest UK Conference Market Survey (2001) showbuyers still look for accessibility and location, but are concerned above allwith finding a high-quality and responsive service. At the same time, cost hasdropped from first to sixth in the survey’s list of selection criteria.The problem for venues is that despite attempts to improvestandards by industry bodies such as the Meetings Industry Association (MIA),their customers say they are not getting the level of service they want.Respondents to the survey criticised conference staff for their attitude tocustomers and lack of flexibility. They also found a lack of urgency, internalcommunication problems and believed venues would benefit from finding morededicated and better-trained staff – particularly when recruiting from overseas.Conference organisers know what they want to achieve, butquestion how far venues will go to meet their needs.Jo Lucas, commercial manager at Middle Aston Training andDevelopment Centre, says: “People are looking for venues that understandtheir learning ethos. Where people make the softer side just as important asthe harder, commercial side.”The difficult part for organisers is finding the right servicefor them. While most events are likely to need facilities such as breakoutrooms – dedicated quiet spaces – and flexible meal times, in the more‘adventurous’ sectors demands can stretch to cowboy-style saloons and cakesiced in corporate colours.And regardless of which end of the spectrum organisers sit, thesuccess of the event relies on the flexibility and open-mindedness ofconference staff.So what makes a venue stand out from the rest? Sally Greenhill,director of conference consultancy The Right Solution, believes a modernoutlook is essential. “Flexibility is high on the agenda. Staff have to beable to react quickly to change and there is a need for venues to react quicklyto clients’ needs. “Much of the time things are decided on the day and venuesneed to be able to cope with this,” she says. “Expectations havechanged – people expect things to be done instantly, and if they aren’t, theywant to know why.”Alan Rogers, chief executive of marketing hospitality companyThe Red Carpet says: “It is the little things that matter – they help makethe whole thing run more smoothly. Forgetting to take care of the luggage for500 delegates can turn a simple conference into a nightmare and makes far moredifference than a bad presentation.”But possibly the biggest difference a venue can make is torecruit staff with a passion for the industry who are trained to do the jobefficiently. Something which will remain a pipe dream while venues continue tobe staffed by casual workers on short-term contracts.Environment is, of course, fundamental to a successfulconference.”The room has to be proactive,” says Greenhill.”Everything has to enable people to work in comfort. Often conferencefacilities are noisy because of faulty air conditioning or because the kitchenleads off the meeting room. It has to be a comfortable space that has a nicetemperature, lack of noise, comfortable light and furniture that enables peopleto work.”It is also vital that venues recognise that a conference is aplace of work and is highly dependent on and shaped by the technology thatpeople use.Phil Whitehurst, event consultant at management developmentcompany Brathey Hall Trust, says: “Conference organisers are starting torealise that it is important to engage people.”It’s not just what you communicate but how you do it.It’s not about simply dumping info on people, but getting them to react to itso they take it away with them. A lot of thought has to be put into how you putthe information across.”Thankfully, this is one aspect of conferences that venues havespent a lot of time and money getting right. Along with their own investment intechnology, many venues have set out to make things as easy as possible fororganisers who want to use their own equipment. Conference venues are also likely to have a cyber cafe whereorganisers and delegates can download information from the internet. Modems arealso increasingly found in bedrooms, coffee bars and lounge areas for people tolearn and study outside the conference room.Joanne Silverwood, events manager at conference and trainingcentre Eynsham Hall, says: “It’s a case of making sure people can runtheir PowerPoint projections and are able to connect to the net withouttrouble. We have ISDN lines both in the conference rooms and bedrooms so peoplecan download everything they want, when they want.”This has increasingly enabled conferences to become paper-free.It has also contributed to the development of a more open and flexible form oflearning, as delegates are free to explore their thoughts at leisure. However,the question is: would it have been better to spend all this money on peoplerather than facilities? Rogers thinks so. “Technology is no big deal any more asthe amount you want to use can simply be brought in. You can get an emptyballroom and you can do whatever you want with it as long as you understand howto plug the technology in.”To his mind it is far more important to get the ‘feel’ of theconference right. And a major part of this is dependent on having people inplace who are both willing and able to help delegates and organisers. Theemphasis is on service with a smile – something the UK conference sector hastraditionally found hard to deliver.But what is certain is the conference world is more flexibleand technologically innovative than ever before. And a recent move by the MIAto align its training courses with the Hospitality Training Foundation suggestsa more professional approach is being taken to training in the industry as awhole (see box above).It is also an industry that’s moved on from its boozynetworking reputation of the past. Tony Rodgers, executive director of the British Association ofConference Destinations, says: “Conferences are becoming far morework-oriented. Delegates are far more likely to be asked to start early andfinish late and in some cases do homework in their rooms. There’s not so muchtime for the informal networking that used to count for so much.”For conference organisers it seems it is a case of selecting avenue carefully to make sure they have both the facilities and staff to makethe event a success. This, says Whitehurst, is down to teamwork: “You haveto work as a team with staff at the venue. It doesn’t matter how good thefacilities are – if you don’t get the right response from the people you areliaising with there’s no point carrying on.”For contact details of allsuppliers mentioned here go to www.personneltoday.com/directoryRaising the game through trainingThe British Association of Conference Destinations (BACD) claims thatbecause the industry is only 50 years old, and as such is relatively immature,training is still being developed. It remains an industry fragmented andheavily reliant on casual, relatively inexperienced staff. Peter Worger, general secretary of the Events Sector Industry TrainingOrganisation (ESITO), says: “The events industry has gone 40 to 50 yearswithout any formal structure. You can’t simply wave a wand and make it betterovernight. Things are moving forward, but in a volatile industry it takes timeto establish things properly.” Tony Rodgers, executive director of BACD, says: “It is indisputablethat if we can get in place the same sort of professional and educationaltraining that is established in more professionally recognised industries suchas accountancy and medicine, then the industry as a whole will have a higherstatus and deliver a higher quality product and service. It is a win-winsituation for all concerned.” The British Tourist Authority estimates 530,000 people in the UK rely on theevents industry for work directly or indirectly. Therefore, the effects of thistraining shortfall reach beyond conference halls and banqueting suites. It impacts on organisers as well as conference staff. Rodgers says:”There is a need for training on both sides of the fence. Many people whoorganise conferences are not full-time professionals. It is often a secretary,PA or training manager who has been given the responsibility. “And on the supply-side, those working at the venue may not havespecific training to handle business visitors or delegates.” But the main problem for venues is that the lack of training is combinedwith poor working conditions, low pay and inconsistent work periods. Somethingwhich Gill Smillie, honorary secretary of the MIA, thinks is at the heart ofthe retention problem. “Staff can see no way of moving forward. Theysimply start to look elsewhere,” she says. In an attempt to rectify this, the MIA has teamed up with the HospitalityTraining Foundation (HTF) to run three training programmes aimed at everyonefrom managers to frontline staff. There has also been an increase in the numberof Modern Apprenticeships, NVQs and college courses available nationally. “We hope this programme helps staff see a future in the industry andtry to achieve HCIMA accreditation,” Smillie says. “Training makespeople feel more wanted. If people are not trained to do the job properlythey’re not going to do it properly. They will also become frustrated and lookto leave the industry.” UK Conference Market Survey 2001 key findings– During 2000 Central England was amore popular conference location than London. London remains the most popular individual town or city, althoughBirmingham was mentioned by 31 per cent, Manchester by 14 per cent andEdinburgh by 11 per cent of respondents.– Hotels remained the most popular venue type, with out-of-townand city centre destinations being selected by more than 70 per cent of people.– Location, capacity and quality of facilities were seen as keyinfluencing factors by more than 40 per cent of respondents. However, qualityof service was seen as a key factor by 33 per cent – more than those whoselected price.– Overall, 68 per cent of respondents rated the standard of UKconference facilities highly. However, many facility and service issues werementioned as needing improvement.– Nearly three-quarters of the survey said their business resultshad been improved by holding a conference.– The manufacturing sector holds far more conferences thananyone else. – The survey involved telephone interviews with 300organisations in the UK. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Case round-up

first_imgCase round-upOn 18 Nov 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Case round-up by Eversheds 020 7919 4500Long service pays Cadman v Health & Safety Executive, EAT, 22 October 2003 Cadman, a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, was paid less thanfour male colleagues and brought an equal pay claim. The HSE defended the claimon the grounds that the men had longer service. It accepted that its pay schemewas indirectly discriminatory against its female employees; they generally hadless service and were more likely to take career breaks. A defence available to the HSE, however, was that paying staff in this waywas objectively justifiable. Relying on the decision in a European case (the Danfoss case) the HSE arguedthat such justification had already been established. The tribunal disagreed.It ruled that the Danfoss decision had been watered down by later cases andthat employers must, in every case, demonstrate specific justification for apay differential. Here, the HSE had failed to do so. The HSE appealed. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) overruled the tribunal, dismissingCadman’s claim. It confirmed that the principles set out in the Danfoss casewere sound. There was no requirement for the HSE to produce specificjustification for using length of service as a factor in its pay scheme. Whatthe tribunal needed to do in such a case was to balance the discriminatoryeffect of using length of service as a criterion in determining pay, againstthe reasonable needs of the employer. Here it had not done so. Having a choice Dehaney v Brent Mind and Another, CA, 27 October 2003 Following the rejection of her tribunal claims Dehaney appealed to the EAT.She was asked if she would agree to her case being heard by a reduced panel ofone member, as opposed to two – something to which she verbally consented. After the proceedings had commenced, however, Dehaney discovered that thesingle appointed member of the panel was an employer’s representative, ratherthan an employee’s representative. She therefore objected, but the EAT refusedto discharge itself since the hearing had started. Dehaney appealed this refusal. In giving verbal consent to a reduced panel,she had not given her informed consent. She claimed that she should have beentold in advance that the single appointed member was an employer’srepresentative, a claim with which the Court of Appeal agreed. The Employment Tribunals Act 1996 dictates that the EAT panel should consistof equal numbers of lay members with experience of employers’ interests andthose representing the interests of employees. Deviation from this requiresexpress consent of the parties. Dehaney had not, in fact, given informedconsent, therefore the legislative requirements had not been met. The Court ofAppeal commented that it would be better practice for written consent to beobtained before the hearing commenced. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Dave Matthews Band Brings Out Two Tour Debuts In Bangor

first_imgDave Matthews Band resumed their major summer tour earlier this week, rocking out with a great showcase at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, ME last night. The beloved group is celebrating their 25th anniversary in style, bringing out new tour debuts and bust outs practically every night. Last show featured two songs not yet played on tour, only adding to the variety of the band’s performances.The DMB opened with “Granny,” before shuffling into “When The World Ends.” The band broke out into “Mercy” for the first time on tour, though fans heard a solo acoustic version of the song at Matthews’ performance at the Bernie Sanders rally earlier this week. Watch it here.The set incorporated new song “Samurai Cop,” and also featured the 2016 tour debut of “Typical Situation,” which hadn’t been played since 11/11/15. The band kept rocking and closed the show with an encore that included “You & Me” and “You Might Die Trying.”Dave Matthews Band continues their tour tomorrow night, June 10th, in Mansfield, MA. Check out the full setlist below.Edit this setlist | More Dave Matthews Band setlistslast_img read more

Waterfront mansion offers Hollywood-style luxury on the Gold Coast

first_img MORE NEWS: Where do The Avengers call home? They put their own stamp on the house while renovating it, including adding feature wallpaper. It exudes luxury from every corner.“We opened up the indoor outdoor spaces and made the entertaining spaces bigger,” Ms Frost said.The open plan downstairs living area, including the kitchen and outdoor entertainment spaces, was Ms Frost’s favourite part of the home.“We entertain all the time,” she said.“There’s the billiard room, the bar, the barbecue area.“Even if it’s raining, we can host a huge big party here.”Deciding to sell the property was hard but Ms Frost said it was the right move.“We’re ready to downsize, all our older children are adults now,” she said.“I love the house, we love living here but really the house is way too big for us.“If I had a choice, I’d shrink the house and stay.”The property will go under the hammer on May 5. The owners spent about two years renovating the property. The owners are only selling the house because they need to downsize.To top it off, a courtyard pool overlooking the water offers the perfect spot to kick back and relax on the weekends.The waterfront house is so impressive, you’d never guess it has been partially rebuilt.Owners Shaun and Helena Frost spent about two years renovating the five-bedroom house.The couple fell in love with the property from the moment they set eyes on it, but that wasn’t what made them buy it seven years ago.“It’s a magnificent home but it was the chance to renovate it and breathe new life into it,” Ms Frost said.“It almost needed rebuilding.“Because the house is so big, we were able to section it off and … live in it.”More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa11 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days agoThey stripped it then built it back up, making sure they put their own stamp on it. MORE NEWS: Sale marks milestone for Coast streetcenter_img There are plenty of spaces to entertain guests. The waterfront mansion at 26-28 Donegal Cres, Sorrento looks like it belongs in Hollywood.IT looks like the type of mansion that would be home to Hollywood’s rich and famous.From the street, the towering white facade and full-size tennis court flanked by tropical palms are a good indication the Sorrento residence is one of pure luxury.But it is not until stepping inside that the full extent of that luxury can be appreciated.Its white palette accentuates specific details, including feature wallpaper, elaborate lighting and modern fixtures and fittings.Multiple living spaces, including the seamless flow between indoor and outdoor areas, show the house has been designed with entertaining in mind. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 1:44Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -1:44 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD540p540p288p288p180p180pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenHow to bid at auction for your dream home? 01:45last_img read more