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Five top tips when booking accommodation

29 Sep

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Balancing cost and quality undoubtedly plays a role when booking accommodation. Whether for business or leisure, we all want to get the best possible value for our money.

Here are five simple steps to help you to make an informed decision before booking your next accommodation choice.

Get in early
As demand increases, the price will too, so get booking up to a year in advance.  Most hotels have a cancellation policy that won’t kick-in until a few days before your arrival, so you will have plenty of time to cancel and not lose out.

When it has to be last minute
If you are travelling at very short notice, be brave.  On-the-day bookings can be made at huge discounts as long as the hotel has plenty of unsold beds.  If you have time to monitor a favourite venue for a few days, see which way the prices are going and snap up a last minute bargain.

Don’t ignore the ‘added extras’
Free high-speed WiFi and complimentary coffee & cakes can make a big difference to your finances, even during a short break, so look a little deeper and compare the extras before you make your final decision.

Get online and book smarter
Check price comparison sites to see if there are any offers running for your chosen location.  In this highly competitive market, hotels aren’t the only quality option of venue. Use the reviews on these sites to get a better picture of what to expect when you arrive, and don’t forget to check TripAdvisor before making your mind up.

And finally….You’ve made your final selections and now have a shortlist of venues that meet all of your criteria, such as location, quality, added extras and price.  Your final move should be to check the hotel’s own website, rather than purely relying on the price comparison sites as you may find something on offer that the hotel doesn’t make available to on-line travel agents.

Driving sales at Woodland Grange

19 May

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EEF Venues’ Woodland Grange venue in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire has secured bookings for several major classic car club events this year, as well as another for 2017.

From 29th April to 1st May, the Talbot Owners’ Club will hold its annual AGM at the AIM-gold accredited venue. The Club was originally formed in April 1934 and focuses on all Talbot cars manufactured at the London factory of Clement Talbot Ltd between 1903 to May 1937.

June sees the return of the highly successful HERO Summer Trial event when classic car enthusiasts will gather from all over Europe at the venue. The Summer Trial is a round of the 2016 HERO Cup, supported by EFG Private Bankers and ZENITH Watches, and is an ideal introductory event to the world of classic rallying.

When re-booking the event, HERO event director, Jeremy Dickson, said: “Having held the event at Woodland Grange last year, we know it is a perfect location with ample parking and easy access from the motorway for a fun weekend’s rallying on Warwickshire’s leafy lanes.“

The venue has also secured a booking for the Austin Healey International Weekend for July 2017.

Ian Chaplin, EEF Venues’ general manager of Woodland Grange said: ”Our reputation for customer service excellence continues to drive venue sales.”

A hat-trick for Woodland Grange

31 Mar

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EEF Venues’ Woodland Grange conference centre in Leamington Spa has won three awards, underlining the quality of the venue and its team.

For the fourth consecutive year the venue has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor.

For the third year running, the venue has achieved a top rated status in the prestigious ‘Simply The Guest Awards’ after receiving an average review score of over 80% across 30 or more genuine guest reviews left over the past twelve months on, the UK’s leading hotel booking site.

Woodland Grange has also received an Award of Excellence from in honour of the venue team’s  8.5 rating consistently achieved over the last three years.

Ian Chaplin, general manager of Woodland Grange, said:” At Woodland Grange we aspire to world class customer service so we feel very proud to get this positive feedback and recognition directly from our customers. I am particularly delighted for our team who work tirelessly to make every customer’s journey with us memorable and enjoyable.

“Benchmarks such as these latest awards strengthen our reputation as a quality player with consistently high standards.”

Stepping out in style

4 Mar

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First impressions count so we’ve invested in smart new uniforms across our three venues to show the consistency of our standards.

Our team at Woodland Grange was only too happy to step out in style to showcase our new look. The grey uniforms with a crimson accent for a splash of colour have been designed to reflect our quality ethos and our unique branding.
500 Uniforms2016

Woodland Grange takes silver at the National Apprenticeships4England Awards

4 Mar

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EEF Venues’ Woodland Grange conference centre in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire has been awarded silver at the Apprenticeship 4 England Awards 2016 for the team’s outstanding work with apprentices and for the provision of training to staff.

Matthew Parsons, executive chef, (Mentor of the Year in the National Apprenticeship Awards 2015) and Ailish Griffin, originally an apprentice but now a commis chef at Woodland Grange, attended the award ceremony at the Emirates Stadium in London on Thursday 25th February.

This national awards programme showcases and rewards outstanding examples of quality, best practice, innovation and excellence in apprenticeship delivery.

Working closely with Stratford-upon-Avon College, eleven apprentices have been trained at Woodland Grange over the last nine years, all of whom have gone on to take up positions within the hospitality sector, with five taking up permanent positions at Woodland Grange.

Ian Chaplin, general manager at Woodland Grange, said: “We are delighted to receive this national recognition because we genuinely celebrate young talent and value what they bring to the business.

“Investing in training and development at all levels of the business plays a key role in our strategic objectives. It continues to impact positively on our performance and on our reputation for customer service excellence.”

The news comes in advance of National Apprenticeship Week starting on 14th March.

EEF Venues takes the title for the third consecutive year

4 Mar

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For the third year running, EEF Venues has been named ‘No 1 Small Group’ and ‘Best Value for Money Group’ in BDRC Continental’s VenueVerdict Awards 2015 – the only industry awards programme based entirely on the voice of the customer.

In addition, Engineers’ House, EEF Venue’s Bristol venue, has been named ‘No 1 Overall Venue’ and ‘No 1 Conference Centre’ for the second year running.

This year’s results are based on 20,003 individual responses throughout 2015 from event planners across a pool of over 375 participating venues nationwide.

EEF Venues was ranked in top place within key people-related areas of the customer journey such as understanding client priorities, friendliness & helpfulness of staff, flexibility & responsiveness and meeting & greeting performance. Other areas also scored top marks such as technical facilities, Wi-Fi speed & connectivity and meeting room size, comfort and temperature.

David Vaughton, director of venues for EEF Venues, said:” People skills and engagement are vitally important issues for customers on their journey with us because that is what they remember so to have gained this important accolade three years in a row shows the consistency of our standards and satisfaction levels.

“Achieving world class customer service is an integral part of our business model and it continues to reap sustainable business benefits such as trust, loyalty, repeat business, increased revenue and recognition such as this. We couldn’t ask for a better start to the year. “

The results underline a recent report by the Institute of Customer Service on 2016 trends which highlight that focusing on the customer experience impacts positively on business outcomes.

“It’s all about people”, said David Vaughton. “If you have passionate people who embody your values, it is bound to impact positively on return of investment and on the bottom line. That is why we place so much emphasis on growing talent through our apprentice and trainee management schemes to instil our values for succession planning.”

Over the last two years EEF Venues achieved 19% consolidated growth and forecasts a further 5% year on year growth for 2016, with a projected annual turnover target close to £6 million for this financial year.

EEF Venue’s three venues have also scooped gold standard accreditation in the VenueVerdict Gold Standard Accreditation 2015, with a combined Net Promoter Score of +86.8 from customers in comparison to a national average of just +55.1.

James Bland, director of the Hotels and Hospitality team at BDRC Continental, said: “Our role at BDRC Continental is to ensure impartial, unbiased calculation of results to ensure the VenueVerdict Awards and Accreditations are determined entirely by the customer feedback properties receive.  That means that Gold Standard Accreditations are genuine hallmarks of the service and product that meeting and event hosts can expect to experience.

“To achieve the high standard required to achieve these accreditations requires hard work and dedication, but above all an unwavering focus on the guest experience.  EEF Venues are to be congratulated for the consistently excellent standards they maintain.”

Keep calm and book direct goes live

4 Mar

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Woodland Grange’s direct bedroom booking portal has now gone live. This automated service allows clients to book a room in advance – at any time of the day or the night. Best rate will be guaranteed, and regardless of how far in advance a booking is made, it can be cancelled with 48 hours’ notice.

The benefits to a B&B booker are that it’s simple to use; it’s fast, efficient and comes with the full back up of the Woodland Grange reception team, if required.
The system integrates seamlessly with the website and allows for ‘live’ bedroom availability to be shared with the online portal in real-time.

Ian Chaplin, general manager of Woodland Grange, said: “We have made a significant investment in this product but technology will never replace people, particularly in a customer-focussed environment like Woodland Grange. However, moving with the times is important and we want to give our customers more choice in how they place a booking. Booking direct streamlines the entire process and remembers users which removes the need to constantly re-enter booking details. It’s perfect for people who are under time pressure.”

500 Booknow

Woodland Grange wins gold in VisitEngland Awards 2015

12 May

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EEF Venues’ Woodland Grange meeting and conference venue in Leamington Spa has taken gold in the Business Tourism category of the prestigious VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2015, held last night, Monday 11 May 2015, at the Sage Gateshead.

The award places the AIM Gold accredited meeting and conference venue as the UK’s premier business venue.

The VisitEngland Awards attracted a total of 345 applications, with five finalists vying for gold under the Business Tourism category. The gold award is the highest Award for Excellence in Tourism in England which VisitEngland can bestow.

David Vaughton, director of venues for EEF Venues, said:”This is a proud moment for all at EEF Venues and a tangible endorsement of our quality standards. It is testament to our teams who have the expertise and experience to understand the very specific needs of a business client. We feel enormously proud of this national recognition.”

Woodland Grange is the flagship venue of the EEF Venues’ group which has two other venues: Broadway House in Westminster and Engineers’ House in Bristol. Set within 16 acres of grounds on the outskirts of Leamington Spa in Warwickshire,  Woodland Grange has 26 versatile conference and meeting rooms, superfast synchronous internet, 114 en-suite bedrooms, a leisure suite, two bars, a restaurant and an internet café.  Earlier this year, the venue gained BDRC Gold status.

“Our teams have the necessary training and experience to handle the often complex operational requirements of a business event efficiently and competently because that is what they do, day-in, day-out. Every detail is looked after, from setting up presentation equipment to catering requirements. Nothing is left to chance,” said David Vaughton.

“This award is for every single member of staff at Woodland Grange who tirelessly work to achieve customer service excellence.”

VisitEngland Chairman, Lady Cobham CBE, said: “The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence – this year hosted at the wonderful Sage Gateshead – celebrate the very best in English tourism. It is the highest accolade and recognises the true champions of our industry, as well as the top quality visitor experiences we are fortunate to have on offer in England. The competition is of an increasingly high standard and so I offer my sincere congratulations to all our winners on this tremendous achievement, particularly the Gold Award winners for their exemplary contribution to tourism in this country.”

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive said “We received hundreds of applications of an exceptionally high quality making the competition for a Gold Award extremely tough.  It is therefore a tremendous achievement for EEF Venue’s Woodland Grange venue  to win a Gold Award, the highest accolade for Excellence in Tourism which VisitEngland can bestow.  They have raised the bar for excellence for others to aspire to and I warmly congratulate them on their exemplary contribution to tourism in this country.”

Woodland Grange chef wins Mentor of the Year title in People 1st National Apprenticeship Awards 2015

21 Mar

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Matthew Parsons, executive chef at EEF Venues’ Woodland Grange conference centre in Leamington Spa, has been named Mentor of the Year in the People 1st National Apprenticeship Awards 2015. The news was announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday 26th February at the House of Commons.

Matthew was short-listed with Rhiannon Ball from the Lancaster London Hotel, and he was selected as winner because of his outstanding work in mentoring and developing young people at the AIM gold accredited Warwickshire venue.  He has mentored six apprentices to date at Woodland Grange, two of whom are now full-time staff members at the venue.
His nominator, David Vaughton, director of venues for EEF Venues, said: ” We feel incredibly proud of Matthew for gaining such national recognition. For Matthew, there are no short-cuts as consistent quality is everything. ‘Do it well, do it right’ is his mantra so he instils high standards in his apprentices from the outset.
“95% of our food served at Woodland Grange is made from scratch by our brigade – a tangible indication of the training apprentices receive in classical culinary skills and methods such as how to make a classic roux, how to skin and bone a fish and make a consommé  – many of which have disappeared in kitchens due to convenience foods.”
Matthew said: “I am very proud of this award as it is embodies my belief in training and developing the next generation of chefs. It is wonderful to be acknowledged in this way by such a respected national awards programme.”

Simon Tarr, People 1st managing director, said: “These awards promote the industry as a great place to work, highlight the value apprentices can offer, and celebrate those who play an essential role in supporting apprentices on their chosen career path. The passion and enthusiasm of everyone involved – the young people, their employers and those who came to support them points to a great future in our industries.”
Bryan Anderson, team leader for work-based learning at Stratford upon Avon College, said: ‘We have worked with Matthew Parsons for many years delivering successful hospitality apprenticeships at Woodland Grange. His passion for the industry and desire to develop the next generation of chefs is clearly demonstrated by the time and commitment he commits to the candidates.“
In the lead-up to National Apprenticeship Week (9th-13th March),  Matthew has been invited to take part in a campaign by Warwickshire County Council to raise awareness of the benefits to businesses of taking on apprentices.

EEF Venues takes the title for the second year running

21 Mar

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For the second consecutive year, EEF Venues has been named ‘No 1 Small Group’ and ‘Best Value for Money Group’ in BDCR Continental’s VenueVerdict Awards – the only industry awards programme based entirely on the voice of the customer.

In addition, EEF Venues’ Bristol venue, Engineers’ House, has been named No 1 Specialist Venue and Overall Venue for 2014.

This year’s results are based on 21,250 individual responses throughout 2014 from event planners across a pool of over 375 participating venues nationwide.

David Vaughton, director of venues for EEF Venues, said: ”These awards are an acknowledgement of our people, our performance, our investment in product and service and the relationships we hold with our customers. The credibility and brand recognition we gain from this award programme cannot be underestimated, particularly because of its transparent process as it is based entirely on direct customer feedback.

“This is a great motivational start to the year and we view it as an opportunity for increased confidence and further growth ahead.”

James Bland, director of the Hotels and Hospitality team at BDRC Continental, said:” Based entirely on genuine, verified customer feedback, these accolades reflect the cream of the nation’s meetings providers.”

EEF Venue’s three venues have also scooped gold standard accreditation in The VenueVerdict Gold Standard Accreditation Programme 2014, with an aggregate Net Promoter Score of 89.0 from customers, in comparison to a national average of just 54.2.

David Vaughton said: ”Customer service excellence drives this business so achieving these accolades endorses everything we stand for. Repeat bookings account for 70 per cent of business across our three venues so keeping our customers happy and satisfied is vital as it has a direct impact on our performance as a group. It is truly humbling that our efforts have been acknowledged in this way.”

Woodland Grange offers the best of all worlds – a rich heritage dating back to Victorian times with contemporary facilities ranging from complimentary, superfast internet access to a state-of-the-art fitness room, sauna and Jacuzzi.

Food at Woodland Grange is fresh, seasonal and locally sourced, brought to you by our craft-skilled executive chef and his brigade. For a memorable fine dining experience choose to dine in our Lawns Restaurant, or our Oak Room is also available for private fine dining.

Our 114 en-suite bedrooms have recently been refurbished to provide a relaxing and luxurious night’s sleep. Many enjoy lovely views over the Warwickshire countryside and all feature flat screen plasma TVs, tea & coffee making facilities and much, much more.

We couldn’t ask for a better location for Woodland Grange. Set in 16 acres of unspoilt grounds, we are at the heart of rural Britain yet the M6, M40, M42 and M69 motorways are all within a 20 minute drive away. It’s a perfect base from which to explore the many nearby attractions.