EPISODE 11: How Will The Future Of Venue Design Drive Engagement and Learning?

This episode is sponsored by Select Event Solutions and venuedirectory.com.

Episode 11 features Richard Harrison, Director of Conference Centres at Warwick Conferences, in the hot seat to share his knowledge with Show Host Caleb Parker about how his venue has been designed with the aim of driving learning and engagement.

We talk about:

  • How Warwick Conferences is innovating to meet the needs of today's customers and change the image of academic venues?
  • What can venues learn from commercial office interior design trends?
  • How can venues complement virtual meetings?
  • How should venues decide what tech to adopt?
  • What does is it mean to be a customer-driven organisation?
  • How can venues innovate with food?
  • What role do online bookings play?

The following summary was written by Amanda Thurlow, event planner and blogger, and was first published on her blog here.

'How Will The Future of Venue Design Drive Engagement and Learning?' was the title of the Future in 15 show being recorded at Warwick Conferences in Coventry on 6 November 2017. After several shows in London, this was the first show to be recorded in the Midlands.

Event professionals are often responsible for planning a whole programme of events in multiple venues.They see a lot of event spaces so are often looking for a space that can inspire not only them but their event attendees. They regularly have creative ideas about how to develop their event and engage attendees but often venues are not designed to facilitate anything other than the traditional meeting formats. It is great to see innovations from venues in the design of creative spaces to really captivate the imagination and drive learning and engagement.

Warwick Conferences was a fitting host venue for this show, as not only are they an academic event venue but they have recently undergone an extensive refurbishment with a strong focus on creating the ultimate learning environment.

Richard Harrison, Head of Conferences at Warwick Conferences was in the guest seat to impart his knowledge about how the venue has been designed with the aim of driving learning and engagement.

The first thing of note was that the spaces were all distinctly different. As Richard explained, they hadn't been designed around the idea of how many chairs they would fit in but around the idea of how clients would use them. The room that the event took place in included a kitchen. Not only did this provide a relaxed homely vibe for attendees to cater for themselves but also encouraged interactivity and creativity.

When designing the space Richard explained how research had been conducted with clients to ascertain how they would like to use the space. "We want new spaces, spaces that challenge us and put us in a different environment". This was the challenge that Warwick Conferences set out to meet. They have worked to gain accreditation as a learning facility from the Learning & Performance Institute who recognise innovation in learning environments.

It was clear that clients and their needs were at the centre of the thought process for every decision made at Warwick Conferences. Richard said "We cannot dictate to customers, we have to offer them options" Caleb identified that “You can always tell if a venue has thought about their customers if they provide enough plug sockets.”

With the food offering being key to a successful event the conversation soon turned to catering. When asked about where Warwick Conferences sought inspiration for innovation in their food offering, Richard answered that he looked to the high street. This is what people are eating in their daily lives and what they have come to expect. Explore the cultural influences that people are experiencing in their cuisine and replicate to keep your food offering up to date. Warwick Conferences have added a street food van into their event catering options. Post event, the Future in 15 attendees got to sample the Korean burgers and stir fry dishes served up by the on site chef.

In between the filming attendees were able to ask their own questions or input into the discussion in a Q&A. Suggestions were put forward around collaborations between the academic venue and their academic community to add value to for the event planner. The topic of event technology and the future of the meeting space was approached. Richard was an advocate of the environment facilitating the technology. Connectivity and access to the systems is key to clients having a seamless experience. In the future there may be potential for the venue to continue the learning, post event, in a digital environment.

Once the filming wrapped up, attendees were shown around the event spaces and were able to see the variety of creative environments available.

To read the full post and learn more about Warwick Conferences creative environments, go to Amanda Thurlow's website here.