- What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while organising a conference/event and how did you manage it?
We arranged a conference for over 600 delegates at a London hotel, but a security crisis meant the event was cancelled hours before it was due to start. This last-minute change meant it was all hands on deck with our venue finding team to ensure all guests were contacted. We managed to recoup all of the costs and ultimately limited the client’s liability. It’s important to be well-equipped for working to strict deadlines and act quickly in the event of unexpected changes.
- What is the most common concern that clients come to you with about their upcoming event? How does a TMC address/solve this?
Definitely the risk of cancellation charges. Even the most well thought out plans can change suddenly, and it’s important to reduce risk and financial burden for our clients. We address such charges by making sure all staff members are well versed in a venue’s T&Cs, keeping clients informed every step of the way. We take the time to forge excellent relationships with venues and negotiate standard T&Cs to achieve more favourable, flexible terms. This includes making sure that minimum number clauses are as low as possible.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
It’s a cliché, but building relationships with clients and ensuring they have the best experience possible is the most rewarding aspect of the job. A happy client makes our day, and knowing they’ll use our services again in the future is a bonus!
- What is the benefit of booking your conference or event through a TMC?
Our venue knowledge and industry relationships are invaluable. By knowing where to go and reaching out to industry contacts we can negotiate favourable rates and get hold of the best deals to save clients time and money. As a smaller TMC, we really get to know each client and understand their motivations, allowing us to provide the best possible service. Our duty of care obligations give clients an extra level of protection. We guarantee that if something goes wrong, we put it right. This allows peace of mind and significantly reduced risk for our clients.
- For those booking international conferences and events, what additional factors are important to bear in mind?
The most important factor to bear in mind is logistics – is the location well served? Local taxes and currency exchange is also something that should be taken into account when deciding on budget. If you need help with ground management, it’s crucial to use a reputable destination management company, and you also need to consider whether you have assistance if something goes wrong.
- Some may think the choice of venues for large conferences and events is limited to exhibition centres. What other ‘out of the box’ options would you suggest?
Theme parks, museums, historic houses and religious venues such as cathedrals and monasteries make great venues for large conferences. It’s not unusual for clients to use sporting venues like football stadiums and racecourses too. Two of the most unusual venues that our team encountered were an amphitheatre and bull ring – the world really is your oyster when it comes to choice of venue!
- What’s the most important piece of advice for anyone embarking on planning their first conference/event?
Find a reputable TMC that suits your company and really understands your needs. This gives you the best chance of hosting an event that exceeds your expectations!