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Continuing professional development has grown to form an important part of staff development and employee retention. For many potential recruits and employees, the presence of a recognised and effective staff training programme has become a key factor in attracting and retaining employees to an organisation. A major decision when designing training courses is obviously the content, however you neglect venue selection at your peril.

Deciding where to hold your training courses requires a great deal of care and thought, not least as the investment in the training programme tends to be high in both direct expense and the opportunity costs/benefits that arise from implementing a training programme. The venue setting will directly impact on the success of the training courses held, and you should make every effort to select venues that can provide a private and quiet atmosphere for participants to allow them to concentrate fully on obtaining the maximum benefit to be derived from the training being delivered. Many training programmes require a degree of isolation to minimise the disruption caused by outside parties such as other venue guests or environmental factors such as traffic noise. It should come as no surprise that a large number of training course providers that are not held in-house select rural or semi-rural locations for delivery of course content rather than city locations.

If you are holding a short one day training course, the ability to travel to and from the venue needs to be very carefully considered. Participants that are required to complete a long journey before the training course commences are unlikely to be in the best frame of mind to gain the most out of the course content. Choosing a venue that participants can travel to and from in a day while maintaining their concentration for the training course itself will help reduce the expense of overnight accommodation and maximise the benefit to be derived from the training. For those participants that are travelling by rail or air, consider what shuttle transport services can be provided to collect participants from the station and deliver them to the venue and return them at the close of the training course.

If you are holding lengthier training courses whether lasting a few days to residential professional training courses lasting several weeks, you must seriously consider the accommodation and catering that will be delivered to participants: the same advices applies to those organisations planning conferences, meetings, team building events, product launches, PR events and the like. If participants will be staying away from home for several days then every effort to ensure that they remain fresh, alert and committed to deriving the benefits of training will pay dividends in the opportunity benefit to be gained from employee training. It is a false economy to spend large sums of money on the delivery of a training programme that is not supported by ensuring participants are properly fed and accommodated. The venue should also be able to provide either in-house or close-by social diversions that allow participants to recharge their batteries and preferably not just using a hotel bar to do so.

It is a feature of many training courses that there is an element of team building and cross-fertilisation of ideas and working practices. Consider how the venue will be able to accommodate small groups of participants breaking off from the main training regime while engaged on team projects and exercises. Think about whether your training course will require participants to leave the venue premises and work outside either to practice sales skills on the general public for instance, or problem-solving team exercises. The point is not to just think of the premises themselves but also the surrounding environs and their suitability to assisting in delivering the training course objectives.

It is also a feature of modern working life that staff cannot readily leave work behind entirely to concentrate upon training and work commitments will impede upon training while it is being delivered, even if only a short one day training course. The venue should be able to provide participants with the ability to maintain contact with office colleagues and their clients, particularly for sales staff. Ensure that Internet access is available together with fax, telephone and photocopying services as a minimum so that participants may address work issues during breaks

In conclusion, when you are implementing a training programme for your staff consider the investment you are making in delivering a training programme and protect that investment by giving proper consideration to the venue. Aside from the objectives of the training courses in terms of educational and professional development, you must consider it your objective to maintain the participants ability to focus and maintain attention in order to let them maximise the benefit to be gained from the training programme. To skimp on the care necessary in the selection of the venue is to run the serious risk of undermining the investment made in the training course itself.

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