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September 30, 2009

One of the original management training centres hits 40

Nestling on the outskirts of High Wycombe, a sleepy town less than an hour’s drive from London, it’s difficult to believe that Lane End Conference Centre pioneered the development of off-site management training facilities in the UK.

One of the first establishments in Britain to offer such services, the venue’s history now stretches back 40 years.

Rising from the ashes of a boarding school for girls, following a fire that raised the original building to the ground, Lane End still enjoys the beautiful, peaceful grounds that wow delegates with stunning views of the surrounding English countryside.

Early years
Lane End was built in 1969 in a modular design with two distinctive areas, each with its own training suite, dedicated bedrooms, a bar, lounge and dining room. The suites consisted of a main lecture room and three syndicate spaces with a projection area, along with an office for support staff.

Although the training rooms benefited from natural daylight, the design allowed for smaller windows, so that it was easier to install the black-out function that was a main requirement in those days. Today, of course, technology means delegates can enjoy far more natural light, and Lane End has adjusted its facilities accordingly.

Rooms with a view: Lane End and its stunning grounds

Panoramic views
“The industry has changed considerably over the past 40 years,” explains Lane End’s sales and marketing manager Heni Fourie.

“Thanks to modern LCD technology, organisers no longer need dark lecture rooms, and our meeting rooms have been redesigned to allow for more windows and higher ceilings, and the new buildings benefit from panoramic views of the grounds.

“The focus has also shifted from the traditional management training centre to the more widely used term ‘conference centre’, and our facilities have changed to adapt to the evolving requirements for meeting space in today’s market.”

Staying power
Lane End was expanded in the late 1980s and again in the 1990s to cope with the increasing demand for dedicated meeting space. The developments stayed true to the original modular design and, in total, the venue now benefits from five self-contained buildings.

“The average length of stay during the 1970s until the early 1990s was between two and three weeks, a concept completely foreign to the meetings industry today,” says Fourie.

“Although the booking lead times and the duration of meetings have fallen over the past decade, the industry sectors with which we worked in the early years remain a loyal source of business.

Broad appeal
“However, due to the more compact nature of these management training courses, we have seen a vast increase in industry sectors and types of meetings over the last few years,” Fourie continues.

“IT and software conferences, pharmaceutical assessment centres, government meetings and corporate team building days are just some of the exciting new events that work incredibly well with the layout and design of our venue.”

The excellent facilities, backed by an obsession with top-class service, and a loyal customer base have helped guide Lane End through the recession. The venue is now looking to make the most of the approaching recovery, and plans to continue delivering its successful formula for another 40 years… and beyond.



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