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.
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.
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.