In our last Excellence in Practice feature of 2019, Lane End Conference Centre in Buckinghamshire gives us an insight into the venue’s 50th year in business.
As the UK’s first purpose-built conference centre, Lane End has been at the forefront of the meetings and events industry for decades, officially celebrating its 50th year in business in 2019.
From becoming the first to install specialised giant projectors in training rooms in the 1990s, to opening dedicated experiential learning facilities in 2010, the team at Lane End have never rested on their laurels.
And, this year has been no different.
With sustainability high on the agenda and set to play an increasingly important role in event organisers’ decision making, Heni Fourie – director of sales and marketing at Lane End – shares some examples of how the venue is looking to the future.
What part has sustainability had to play in Lane End Conference Centre’s 50th year in business?
Sustainability has played an important part in our business for many years, but as we celebrated our 50th year in 2019, it made a lot of sense to really cement our commitment to being an environmentally-friendly venue, as we look ahead to our next half-century in business.
We all know changes need to be made in order to protect the planet we live on, and the hospitality sector is no exception to this.
At Lane End, we’ve always led the way in our industry – something that’s evident in the fact we’ve got five strong decades under our belts now – and we want to continue to do so in the years to come.
By proving that a meetings and events venue can live and breathe sustainability, we can make a real difference to the environmental impact of both ourselves and the businesses that choose to use Lane End’s facilities – and that can only be a good thing.
What initiatives have you introduced in 2019 as part of your sustainability drive?
In 2019 we have introduced 15 sustainability pledges. These include initiatives such as repurposing used coffee grounds and giving them to our customers to take home to use as compost on their gardens; switching to a search engine that invests profits into planting trees; and recycling all of our cooking oil into Bio Fuel.
We’ve planted our own orchard here on site, too, creating an oasis for wildlife and providing fruit to be used across the centre in the years to come.
The biggest impact, however, has come from our pledges to reduce both paper and plastic usage.
We set ourselves a target of reducing paper usage by 80 percent in our sales and admin offices and, by introducing dual monitors and moving away from unnecessary printing, using an online tool to manage signatures for both clients and suppliers, we’ve achieved it.
Our printing now consists of just bedroom registration cards, two sets of weekly function sheets and one delegate list for each client.
Plastic usage is down an incredible 75 percent, too.
After already exceeding our pledge with the Meeting Industry Association to reduce single use plastic by 20 percent year-on-year, we’ve continued our efforts and smashed the target once again.
From replacing plastic water bottles with glass and creating our own water bottling plant onsite, to removing single use toiletries in our guest rooms, we’ve made a real difference in the amount of single-use plastic being used across the centre in just one year.
How have Lane End’s Sustainability Pledges impacted on the business as a whole?
A lot of venues are sometimes hesitant to make changes for fear of the expense and customer feedback. For example, we were initially concerned about how our guests would react to changes to their in-room toiletries, for example – but we really needn’t have been concerned.
From a cost point of view, we’ve actually saved money in many areas – which is then invested back into further sustainability enhancements, such as eliminating plastic use in our coffee machines and using entirely bean to cup methods.
Equally, it’s been a success from a customer satisfaction perspective, too.
People notice the changes we’ve made and praise our commitment to improving sustainability here at Lane End.
Our efforts were even recognised by industry peers earlier this year, when we won IACC’s European Innovation Award for sustainability.
Simply put, we’ve not reached our 50th year in business without making some bold decisions.
With our 15 Sustainability Pledges now in place and generating real, tangible results, we’re continuing to do this – creating a more sustainable future for our venue and the wider industry, too.
For more information about Lane End’s Sustainability Pledges, visit www.lane-end-conferences.co.uk