Spotlight on...

John Turpin, Venue Manager at Woodland Grange Conference Centre


What is your job role?

I have recently been appointed venue manager at Woodland Grange, EEF Venues’ flagship residential meeting and conference venue in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

How long have you worked in the sector?

I have worked in the sector for 15 years, starting with EEF Venues at Woodland Grange in 2002 as facilities manager before being promoted to operations manager in 2007. In 2009 I was promoted to venues team leader and went on to become group operations manager, during which time I focused on driving common standards of performance across EEF Venue’s three venues: Woodland Grange, Engineers’ House in Bristol and Broadway House in Westminster.

In 2013 I managed a £1 million capital investment refurbishment of all three venues, as well as coordinating the venues with their successful applications for AIM Gold accreditation and BDRC Gold standard ratings.

As Venue Manager for EEF venues, what are you hoping to achieve?

My focus is very much around the commercial objectives of the venue from both a financial and customer service perspective in conjunction with offering strong leadership for the team.  I am keen to identify and develop talent to ensure that EEF Venues maintains its enviable reputation for exceptional customer service standards, as well as building succession.

When and why did you decide to join the mia? Do you remember how you heard about the association?

EEF Venues’ group joined the mia in 2008, with Woodland Grange having been a member since 2002. 

What do you value most about your mia membership?

The insight, benchmarking and networking opportunities we have access to are most valuable. For example, the mia’s Touchstone Report gives us an invaluable insight into the market, allowing us to compare our performance against other like-minded venues within the mia membership base. The training and development opportunities available to members are also excellent. Last but not least, the AIM accreditation process ensures that we identify the gaps to help us continuously improve to retain gold accreditation which we are proud to have.

What is exciting you about the meetings and events industry at the moment?

There is a tangible shift in the meetings and events industry towards collaborative working spaces and we see this as a very exciting opportunity for our three venues. We are in the process of re-designing our meetings spaces and changing furniture and layouts to meet these changing needs. As ever, it’s about being agile and on the pulse of the market.

What do you think are the greatest challenges that the industry is currently facing?

Having a unique voice in a very crowded and competitive sector is an on-going challenge. The key is to stick to your values and ethos and ensure that everyone within the organisation is in tune with them. Another on-going challenge is staffing and recruitment which is why at EEF Venues we focus so much on our existing staff by mentoring, developing and nurturing them on their career journey

What’s your favourite meeting destination?

My favourite meeting destination has to be London because it is the fastest changing area within the meetings and conferencing sector, constantly adapting to market demands and setting standards. It’s great to have a London venue in the EEF Venues’ portfolio and I regularly visit Broadway House in Westminster where the food and service standards are always top class.

How can people find out more about EEF venues?

Our website acts as a good starting point.

We value the human touch and love to hear from people directly so I am always happy to be contacted directly at Woodland Grange on 01926 336621.


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