One of the most important skills within the conferencing industry, is co-ordinating multiple tasks, to ensure that all requirements are met within the given timeframe. Talking us through her daily responsibilities, we sat down with our Senior Conference and Events Co-Ordinator, Sue Tattersall.
What does a day in your position look like?
Within a conference office, no two days are ever the same! I start each day by checking in on my emails, before prepping for upcoming events. This includes everything from contacting clients, either face to face, over the phone, or through the wonders of Skype. It’s crucial that we regularly speak with our clients, as that we can not only build up a working relationship, but also work closely with them to make sure that we deliver an event that goes above and beyond their expectations.
Our working schedule, of course, completely changes when we are running an event. Instead of checking on my emails first thing, I’ll be setting up the venue, and ensuring all of the IT and AV equipment is in place.
As a hands-on team, it’s important that we not only work closely with one another, but also with all of our partners. I take pride in building relationships with staff on cleaning, portering, catering, and of course, our external suppliers.
My philosophy is an event is 99% preparation and 1% delivery – if you prepare thoroughly, the event will be a success.
What first attracted you to the conferencing industry?
To be honest, by default! I previously worked in another part of the University and began working for the Conference Office part-time. That was seven years ago, and I’ve loved working in the full-time role ever since!
What has working in the conference industry taught you?
I’ve learnt that it’s all about the collaboration with the academics, Departments and Schools within the University, outside event organisations and partners in the city. Whoever we are working with, all of our aims are the same; to help promote the University as well as Leeds as a city. Each client is very different, so it’s important to be flexible at all times, listen to their expectations and also give them your advice, as we are the experts after all!
What is your favourite thing about working in the conference industry?
There is nothing better than delivering an event and receiving great feedback, not just from the organiser but also from the delegates who attended. It’s brilliant when events return year after year, as the team become your friends too!
In your experience, what has been the biggest challenge in the industry to date?
The biggest and most disruptive change that the industry has had to have been COVID-19. Whether events are being postponed to later in the year, moving online, or even cancelled completely, the disruption is unquestionable. With this in mind, it’s also important to put the safety of delegates, organisers and our very own employees first every step of the way.
How are you adapting to the current situation?
Working remotely from home has allowed me the opportunity to spend more time in the business, especially without my usual morning commute – but I’m still having my five cups of tea in the morning! I’ve set up my work station on my dining room table, and I keep in touch with the team through regular online meetings – it’s lovely to see all of their faces!
What does your new way of working mean for the customer?
It has been a huge change for all of us, including our customers, and we are endeavouring to work with them closely to find different ways as to how we can help them deliver their event by different methods, such as virtual conferences. It is a learning curve for us all, but one that will make us stronger together.