By Jeffry Farman, past Global President, International Association of Conference Centres.
Most organisations want the best ROI for their training programs. These events are expensive to run. Program development, facilitator fees, travel, time away from the job. Big bucks.
In many cases these organisations are looking for change. Real change that supports learning and provides the ROI.
A study in the US identified four key elements for change. Content, facilitation, logistics and environment. Content and logistics, of course are up to the program developers, trainers and facilitators. Ideally the setting should be different from the day to day environment; relaxing and stimulating to get focus and real buy-in from employees.
Less is not always more.
There are savings in dollars and time when programs are run in-house. But protecting the bottom line is not just about cost avoidance. It’s about not compromising the learning experience.
When change or leadership programs are run in-house there is a real danger that managers will be caught up in the “day to day” by constantly being distracted by work issues. Being physically in the building can be a real risk to the program. Facilitators often say in house meetings can be a nightmare. People turning up late because or work distractions. Breaks going longer than planned when office personnel intrude. Interruptions are less likely when meetings are held off-site. Being physically in the building can be difficult to mentally break from work. Going away allows participants to both physically and mentally separate from the work environment and understand that they’re putting that time aside.
Hilton conducted worldwide research that showed 63% of respondents indicated meetings outside the office were more productive.
Increased productivity Off-Site.
The relative lack of distractions is one reason for the increased productivity, but a certain psychological factor comes into play. There also may be an implicit message sent to participants: “The company cares enough about your professional development to invest in an off-site locale.” That, in turn, fosters engagement with the company.
Collaborating outside the conference room at CountryPlace can have real merit.
An off-site location can make the training that much more “special” and memorable, not only due to the change in environment, but also because the setting can allow for a richer experience. The value for participants in spending time together outside of the classroom, networking or doing assignments together is another reason to go off-site.
People often have a coaching conversation outside the meeting room. They get outside and they’re still doing that work, but it’s in an active setting, and they value that.
The “getaway” aspect to training is also appropriate for certain kinds of sessions; for example, where brainstorming or creativity is involved. Content where learners are deeply immersed around personal discovery, where they have to do a lot of reflection or are going to be in kind of an experimental mode, trying on new ways of working or behaviours. Those can be good times to get people in a new environment to establish a safe space and clear their head.
Download our comparison chart to help you decide whether to take your conference, event or training session off-site.