Another Success for Conference Winchester

Press Release: 19/01/2004

Twenty-four staff from the front desks of hotels and meeting venues around the Winchester District will be coming together this Thursday 22 January for a Conference Winchester training and networking session.

Following pilot sessions last July, this latest event is designed to increase awareness among new staff of the service which Conference Winchester can provide for venues and customers alike. This week’s session for reservations staff, conference co-ordinators and sales managers will be held at Winchester Guildhall at 9.30am.

Conference Winchester came into being in 2002 with the publication of a brand new guide by Winchester City Council’s tourism unit, featuring around 30 venues from hotels and purpose-built conference centres to museums and colleges. Since then, a programme of advertising, public relations activities and development work has been led by a working group of venue managers.

May 2003 saw the launch of a free venue-finding service, managed on behalf of the network by local agency Right Location, to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for corporate customers looking to place business in the Winchester area.

Sarah Hudson, Area Sales Manager of the Marwell Hotel, who helped to organise the sessions, explained: "We realised last year that whilst senior managers at venues were very supportive of the Conference Winchester initiative, many of their front line staff were unsure about how the agency operates on everyone’s behalf. As a result, the working group devised these training sessions with Right Location to help raise awareness and spread best practice."

Diane Slater, Director of appointed agency Right Location, said: "Most front line staff at venues are very professional and experienced in dealing with bookings. However, if they are unable to accommodate a customer request, they can be at a loss to know what advice to offer. By referring enquiries to us, venue staff can help to keep as much of this lucrative business within the Winchester District as possible, whilst feeling confident that they are providing the best possible customer service."

The Conference Winchester working group has been pleased with the response to this latest session, which they say is both an indication of the ongoing support of the venues for the initiative and the interest in regular contact and networking among front line staff.

Winchester City Council’s Head of Tourism, Eloise Appleby, stated: "We have been so encouraged by the warm reception given to these pilot training events that we are now devising networking events for staff who are already familiar with the venue-finding service. These will include opportunities for socialising and for also for some first-hand factfinding about other venues in the District. The first of these will take the form of Pancake Day festivities at Marwell Zoological Park next month."

In the meantime, local organisations who have not yet tried out the Conference Winchester ‘one stop shop’ are invited to give it a go on tel 0870 744 7022 or e-mail enquiries@conferencewinchester.org.uk