Corporate training is a very important part of an organisation’s long-term success. But many ingredients go into providing a comfortable and accessible environment that is conducive to learning. Aditi Sharma Kalra puts together the elements for the right training venue.
Sometimes the company conference room or office pantry area is fine, but in most cases training is more effective when it takes place off -site at a neutral venue. To conduct this search smoothly, training organisers must have a clear objective in mind in terms of amenities, technology and space.
Data from Social Tables shows the average event planner, or in this case the L&D practitioner, goes on 2.15 site visits for each event they manage, spending about two to three hours on each visit. And this doesn’t even include all the phone calls, emails, faxes and communication.
In this feature, we bring you what HR practitioners look for while selecting a training venue and an on-site caterer – as well as a peek into some of Singapore’s well-known training venues.
The perfect learning ground
To make sense of this part of the training puzzle, we reached out to veteran trainers in Singapore and Malaysia to identify what helps them put together the ideal training session.
Singapore-based founder and CEO of Hehsed Consulting, Dr Francis Goh, provides training in Asia on topics such as digital marketing, sales transformation, and more. In his view, the training venue is extremely important in cultivating the right mindset as well as behaviour for the participants. For example, a neutral and relaxed place, away from the hustle and bustle of their daily life, will help promote creativity. He notes the venue refers to both inside and outside – colourful decoration and fittings, for instance, will inspire creativity versus dull and dark interiors.
In the location and space selection process, L&D professionals usually take Goh’s input. In such conversations, he typically takes time to learn about the client’s culture as well as the theme of the training, which will steer some venue options out. "I usually want to highlight that they should take advantage of the place not only for training, but if the location permits, unusual activities such as a walk by the beach if it’s a beachfront resort or some water activities if there is a pool nearby (for team building), etc," he said.
Across the strait in Malaysia, we spoke to Dr Henry Yeoh, the vice-president of people and culture at Loob Holding, also the deputy president of the Malaysian Institute of Human Resource Management.
For training involving the senior team, he recommends an off-site venue to minimise interruptions. Moreover, off -sites induce participants to be more relaxed and less guarded, thus outcomes are more realistic and emotionally connected to the business issue. "Round table seating arrangements are preferred with about four to five pax per table to facilitate more discussions," he said.
Oasia Hotel Downtown
Set against an urban landscape of concrete, steel and glass, the Oasia Hotel Downtown, Singapore by Far East Hospitality stands out with a unique silhouette covered by a lush green façade.
This massive vertical garden is enhanced by alternating 30-metre tall sky terraces and sleek architectural details to form a tropical skyscraper in the central business district.
The 314-room business hotel is located in the downtown Tanjong Pagar area which is set to be transformed into Singapore’s next waterfront city with a hive of business, commercial and residential activities.
With Tanjong Pagar MRT Station at the hotel’s doorstep, guests are minutes away from Raffles Place, Clarke Quay, Sentosa, Orchard Road and Marina Bay.
Designed by award-winning architects, WOHA and Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, the hotel makes use of an abundance of open-air spaces to make meetings refreshing.
Guests can take their pick from the 2,500 square feet of event spaces which spread across two locations.
The first are the Retreat Rooms (level 12) with floor-to-ceiling glass panels that allow guests to experience natural daylight and lush greenery of the Sky Terrace. The 980 square feet of space is able to accommodate up to 60 delegates. For a cosier setting, the room can be divisible into two smaller meeting rooms.
Next is the Skyline Pavilion (level 21), which is suitable for intimate cocktail networking sessions of up to 65 people. This unique space of 1,570 square feet offers a panoramic view of the surrounding cityscape.
One Farrer Hotel & Spa
One Farrer Hotel & Spa seeks to offer more than just luxury accommodation through a range of MICE facilities in the heart of the city.
Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, the grand ballroom and meeting rooms offer a myriad of functional spaces, whether you are hosting a grand dinner or organising a corporate seminar. The conference centre is ideal for meetings and special occasions such as medical conferences, wedding banquets and product launches. The venue boasts the latest technology thanks to its partnership with Samsung. This includes the ability to stream HD “live” fibre-optic feeds from Farrer Park Hospital’s 18 operating rooms, useful for medical practitioners.
With 300 units of Samsung interactive tablets available, guests can communicate effectively with the presenter without the need for roving microphones. Presenters can preload surveys or questions into the tablets meaning they don’t need to move around the conference room as much, and allowing audience interaction without having to raise their hands.
With hues of earthy colours and a maximum capacity of 700 people, the pillar-less ballroom features crystallite chandeliers, smart lights, one 13-metre screen and two 4.5-metre screens, among other facilities.
Located above Farrer Park MRT station, the hotel is within easy reach to all of Singapore’s residential districts and attractions, including a 20-minute ride to Changi International Airport.
Offering customised themes for groups as large as 250, Montigo Resorts’ spacious ballroom comfortably accommodates guests for large occasions such as dreamy weddings, fun corporate getaways and other special events. The sea views complement the resort’s cuisine and service, leaving hosts delighted, and guests thrilled to be invited.
When it comes to corporate meetings, the expansive ballroom and two private meeting rooms at Montigo Resorts, Nongsa, are appropriate for conferencing needs, and feature some of the latest audio visual equipment for impactful presentations.
After a successful day indoors, the resort offers many outdoor venues to facilitate team building and dining. The team tries to ensure no two experiences are alike, so guests can look forward to something different during subsequent visits.
Recognising that a business’ most valuable assets are its people, Montigo Resorts acknowledges the importance and popularity of team building for impacting organisational performance. Montigo Resorts, Nongsa offers programmes designed to hone leadership skills, and establish collaborative environments, with a view to enable employees to be better equipped to meet goals, in a truly fun-filled environment.
Village Hotel Changi
Located in the east of Singapore and within the charming and laid-back Changi district, Village Hotel Changi by Far East Hospitality offers a unique and refreshing destination for corporate meetings and retreats. The hotel’s lush setting right by the coastline sets it apart from the metropolitan city scene. The location is ideal for frequent travellers as it’s a 15-minute drive from Changi Airport.
For companies on retreats, the relatively untouched Pulau Ubin and the flora and fauna of the Chek Jawa Wetlands are both a bumboat ride away from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. Travellers can not only look forward to waking up to lush foliage and a crisp sea breeze, but also trying out the local cuisine.
Village Hotel Changi has a total of 19 indoor and outdoor function spaces of various sizes to suit corporate travellers’ event needs. These function spaces are complemented by services and amenities such as audio-visual equipment, LCD projectors and screens as well as complimentary Wi-Fi access. The spacious square ballroom allows large-scale events of up to 350 people in a theatre setting.
Village Hotel Changi also offers small meeting spaces such as its sphere and cube rooms which are ideal for intimate group breakouts, discussions and brainstorming sessions. It also offers customisable menus prepared by its halal-certified kitchen, as well as an array of team-building activities.
The Ingredient That Binds Teams Together
An additional question that comes to the minds of L&D practitioners during the selection of the training venue is that of corporate catering. For insights on this aspect, we reached out to Orange Clove Catering.
Established in 2008 to cater to the demand for mid high-end corporate enquiries, the firm focuses on providing cross-cultural style cuisine, often fusing Asian and international dishes.
For HR practitioners looking to provide a smooth experience on the food and beverages front, Orange Clove advises the following three priority areas:
1. Variety: Knowing the caterer has a good variety for guests to select from. This is especially so when there is an increasing need for special dietary requirements such as gluten free or lactose-free menu items.
2. Food safety: With the recent cases on food hygiene, food safety has been a concern for trainers and employers as most of the catering is done off site. They want to be assured dishes are prepared in accordance with stringent guidelines.
3. Taste: After a long day of training, trainers and employers want to ensure participants get a hearty meal. Hence, taste is of paramount importance as it will have a direct impact on the overall experience.
With that in mind, Orange Clove’s advice to training professionals looking to build a long-term collaboration with corporate caterers to firstly work with familiar sales representatives who understand your requirements and can cater to your events effectively.
The sales representatives should also take the initiative to suggest new dishes or plan your menu together with you. In the event of last-minute orders, it will also be a breeze to co-ordinate.
The Orange Clove team also recommends relaying your requirements clearly at the start to avoid any miscommunication, and always inform your caterer of any special dietary requirements so arrangements can be made for bento sets, etc.
Photos / Provided