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Conference organisers can be responsible for every aspect of conference planning, including marketing, organisation and administration.

What does a conference organiser do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

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 or commissioning promotional material
  • undertaking appropriate research

The work can involve long hours and tight deadlines. Travel to conference venues and nights spent away from home are often necessary.

Career progression is normally into managerial roles, but those looking for higher pay may want to move into consultancy work or self-employment. Vacancies can be found in local and national newspapers, or in specialist press such as The Caterer magazine. Recruitment agencies often advertise immediate vacancies.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into conference organising for both university graduates and school leavers.

Degrees from any discipline are acceptable for this profession. However, a degree or a postgraduate degree in a subject such as business, marketing, hotel and catering management or languages may be particularly helpful. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are also acceptable.

Work experience within the hotel or tourism trades is usually beneficial. Information technology, foreign languages, sales, marketing and PR skills can also be useful.

To find out how to get into a career in this area via a school leaver route, visit the hospitality and travel section and business section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for conference organisers

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.

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