Employers of conference organisers include hotels, companies, higher education establishments, charities and local authorities. Working for a specialist conference agency or self-employment are alternative options. The work is very similar to events and exhibitions organisation, and typically involves:
- financial and managerial administration
- identifying new business
- marketing and selling conferences to potential delegates
- making bookings for catering, accommodation, transport and excursions
- writing promotional material
- undertaking appropriate research
- problem solving
Career progression is normally into managerial roles, but higher remuneration may necessitate a move into consultancy work or self-employment.
As there is strong competition relevant experience and/or qualifications is often necessary. These could include national vocational qualifications (NVQs), a degree or postgraduate degree in an appropriate subject such as business, marketing, hotel and catering management or languages. In terms of previous experience, work within the hotel or tourism trades is usually beneficial.
Information technology, foreign languages, sales, marketing and PR skills can also be useful. The work can be stressful and pressurised with long hours and tight deadlines. Travel to conference venues and nights spent away from home are often necessary.
Potential employees should have plenty of energy, a calm 'customer focused' manner, the ability to cope with pressure, excellent interpersonal skills, meticulous attention to detail and effective time management and organisational abilities.
Where to find out more
Vacancies can be found in local and national newspapers, or in specialist press such as Caterer & Hotelkeeper Magazine. Recruitment agencies are a good place to go for immediate vacancies. The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) and TTC Training can also offer further help.