Mark Finnis, Independent Trainer
We spoke to Mark Finnis, who has been a Mantle client for over 3 years.
I work as an independent trainer in the Berkshire area and my specialist area is Restorative Practice. I have been using Mantle’s meeting rooms since 2011. As I use the rooms for training, with at least 12-20 delegates attending, I generally book the largest rooms at Innovation House: either the conference suite or a seminar room.
The Need for Extra Space
Companies these days struggle for space. I train on behalf of a number of high profile local organisations and I know they always try to use internal venues to keep costs down, but even in the case of some local councils, it’s not always possible. Sometimes there just isn’t a large enough room to fit a big group, or they get double bookings or timetable clashes for the training rooms they do have. I can see that in those situations it would not be cost-efficient for them to ask me to carry out training on site. It would mean having to build and maintain additional rooms at great expense just to cover a few training sessions for one department. I’ve noticed that some of my employers are actually closing offices due to budget cuts, so overall it’s much better to take the sensible option of hiring an external venue whenever they bring me in to train.
Initial Contact with Mantle and the Booking Process
From my initial contact with Mantle, I have always had a very easy, pleasant experience. Booking a room could not be easier. Because of the convenience, Mantle became a preferred venue for me. From my point of view as a busy trainer, I am appreciative that the people at Mantle don’t overwhelm me (or the course providers) with unnecessary booking forms or paperwork every time. This really does save everyone a lot of time. When we book a room, my requirements are emailed over and a response comes straight back. One of the course arrangers I work with tells me Alina Bolt (who deals with most of our bookings) is one of the most efficient, friendly and helpful people she has ever worked with.
I consider the meeting room rates to be very good value. Also, as we make quite a large amount of bookings with Mantle, occasionally (not too often!) we have to cancel the venue due to unforeseen circumstances. That is the nature of running courses with so many delegates to accommodate! Mantle understands this and allows us a short notice period for cancellation, which is obviously very attractive as savings can then get passed on to provide better value courses for my delegates.
Organised Reception Staff Help Meetings Run Smoothly
From my first visit I was really impressed with the atmosphere and friendliness in the Business Centre. There’s always someone on Reception to greet you, and my experience the Receptionists are always very helpful, efficient, well-prepared and polite. We send them delegate lists a few days in advance, which they are happy to print off to make registration easy for the delegates (something I requested to make registration smoother and more efficient). There is a really proactive attitude at Mantle. They ‘go the extra mile’ by contacting the course arranger if the delegates do not arrive as per the booking. This is a huge help to me as it means I can get on with training the delegates who have arrived without having to get involved in the admin of chasing those who haven’t! Being kept informed means issues can be dealt with at an early stage, which keeps training on schedule.
Using the Meeting Rooms for Training
As an experienced professional trainer, I am accustomed to all sorts of different venues. I have never received a bad comment from any of my delegates about the venues at Mantle, and in my position I know delegates are very quick to complain when venues are not up to scratch! Mantle’s meeting rooms give them adequate space for what is mainly classroom teaching, with plenty of extra chairs. Mantle’s rooms have consistently improved since I have been training there, as a result of my feedback (and other trainers’, I’m sure!) which they took into account when refurbishing. When I ran a recent training session, I was impressed with Mantle’s brand new moveable, reconfigurable tables, which come in very useful (sometimes essential!) when the training involves role play or some movement around the class. Also, I know that other trainers I work with sometimes need a specific room for their autistic delegates, and on these occasions Mantle finds them a suitable room with appropriate light, space and noise control, so everyone is comfortable. And of course, the décor is fresh and modern- I can see some effort has gone into making everything look nice with colour and paintings on the walls. This makes it a more pleasant environment to welcome delegates.
Free Refreshments and Useful Break Areas
Another plus point for me is that the seminar and conference rooms have their own private coffee break areas. I find the learning process is much more productive when delegates can physically move out of the training room for a proper break between sessions. Mantle supplies and serves free coffee, tea, and cold drinks, as well as biscuits to keep the delegates going. Often they turn up expecting to have to pay for a drink using a machine, so it does reflect well on me that they don’t need to worry about this. It also stops me worrying about them disappearing to hunt for snacks and refreshments, holding up the training session!
Free On-site Parking
Free parking is available at Mantle Business Centres. There are specific visitors’ spaces and parking both outside and underneath the building. I have never been unable to park. This is a huge factor for trainers and delegates alike, and really does make a difference as to how popular a meeting venue is. Who wants to walk miles or have to plug coins into a machine?
Recommendation to Other Organisations
I think Mantle’s meeting rooms would suit any local business. Booking is efficient, there’s a good variety of useful and nicely decorated meeting rooms, the people are very helpful, and parking is easy. I’ve got events scheduled at this venue for the next 18 months and will continue to use Mantle’s meeting rooms whenever the need arises.
Take a look at what Mantle offers here.
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