By Marcus Wilson, head of marketing at Keele University
For a number of years the events industry has reviewed and trained its staff to become specialists across operational and sales and marketing disciplines, in order to better serve its customers.
Our own team and facilities at Keele University Conferences & Events have recently undertaken the audit, assessment and training process to become the first academic venue in the Midlands to pass the rigorous assessment from Compliant Venues Ltd, an independent consultancy helping meeting venues understand and work more effectively with the healthcare sector, and be listed on its healthcare-venues.com website. This gives companies and specialist agencies working in the healthcare sector assurances that the team at Keele University Conferences and Events has demonstrated the skills to gain this standard and collaborate with Compliant Venues to continue to improve best practice.
There are many accreditations and assessments for other industries as well. For instance, the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) or the National Autistic Society provide accreditation for organisations looking to prove they are suitable to hold events for their own respective niche. These kind of accreditations include the same level of rigorous assessments as Compliant Venues does for the healthcare sector, including assessment of the venues used, training, an audit of the organisation and constant contact with an expert advisor. And due to the nature of these specialist sectors, the qualifications usually require an update of skills every few years. For instance, with the National Autistic Society accreditation retraining takes place every three years and Compliant Venues continues to train and retrain every six to 12 months.
The aim of creating ongoing assessments and training is clear; to continue to produce excellent customer service and plan events that create the right environment for learning.
During the full Compliant Venues audit, location, the surrounding area, sales and marketing messaging, both on and off line, accessibility, history, reputation and all meeting, accommodation, food and beverage and any leisure facilities are taken into account to determine whether venues might be considered suitable for healthcare sector meetings. This can mean questioning whether a venue is suitable for internal or external events, such as training or sales meetings, product launches, advisory boards and even medical society events involving corporate organisations.
Integral to the assessment is the training of a number of staff including a dedicated Venue Healthcare Champion (VHC). This means everyone within the organisation can deliver for healthcare events under the direction of an in-house expert. And the trained staff – of which there are four at varying levels of seniority – can make sure the event set up meets all the requirements of an organisation, ranging from providing appropriate rates to the more operational confidentiality. The results of these training sessions and an open source compliance risk assessment is published on healthcare-venues.com to provide an easy reference point for those involved in healthcare meetings.
In the case of other accreditations there may be slight variations due to the nature of the specialism. But the result is the same. The customer is reassured that they will be getting the best, safest and most appropriate service available. Additionally, employees can become specialists and make themselves indispensable and help spur on competition within the events and venue industry, increasing expertise across the board.
Competition is vital to a private industry bringing through innovations quickly and moving at a good, positive pace which benefits both customers and the people working within the industry. In the case of organisations and venues undertaking rigorous accreditation programmes, all parties concerned – venue, organisation, employees, industry and, most importantly, customers – benefit in their own right. It is far more than being an industry requirement to keep ahead of competitors.
If we are to continue to move forward in the events industry, assessments and accreditations that can continually refine and prove expertise are a must, and as the only academic venue in the Midlands having undertaken the Compliant Venues assessment and training programme we have not only have improved our own services, but can offer a fresh perspective on healthcare events, pushing forward the sector in the process.