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How to become a professional conference organiser

Would you call yourself creative and a collaborator? Are you a good listener and always thinking two steps ahead? Are you always meticulously organised yet possess the flexibility to think on the run? If these traits sound familiar, there’s a very good chance you’d make a superb professional conference organiser. Here’s how you can take this next step in your career and start planning conference and events for clients Australia wide.

What does a conference organiser do?

A conference organiser – also known as an event planner – is the person tasked with overseeing and arranging all the operations which relate to a conferences and events. From the pre-planning, right through to the post party clean-up, a conference organiser will take care of every detail.  This includes picking suitable conference venues, adhering to the budget, liaising with all suppliers and even booking in attendees as they arrive.

Are there different types of conference organisers?

Yes, there are. Some organisations have an in-house team already assembled to look after event planning, while there are some specialist companies who work with a myriad of clients to breathe life into their conference visions.  There’s pros and cons to each.  When dealing with an in-house team you are limited to using their contacted team of suppliers for AV and technology, catering – even accommodation if your venue is in a hotel. However, with a stand-alone, dedicated conference planning company, they will have more freedom to shop around to get the best products at the best prices as they are not limited to only using what is available on site.

What professional skills should I possess?

In this profession, it’s all about time management. You need to deliver on time, every time.  This will mean you need to have foresight to negate any possible obstacles as well as the ability to be flexible and think fast when issues arise. You’ll also need to be discreet and confidential and always respect the client’s wishes, even if you don’t agree with their overall vision for the event.

What personal skills should I possess?

First and foremost, you will need to be the very essence of calm under pressure. Arranging conferences can bring with it a barrage of stress but it’s your job to ensure none of these burdens filter through to the client who has hired you to arrange their event. Being creative is also key. Your client will have a vision in mind when they plan this conference, and it’s your job to breathe life into it. This then means being a good listener is also critical. Your client wants to know they are being heard and that you will deliver to them the event they have engaged you to.

Do I need certain qualifications to be a conference organiser?

Commonly, a conference organiser or event planner will possess a bachelor’s degree in tourism, hospitality, communications, public relations, leisure or business. Here they will learn the necessary skills for event planning, marketing, media relations and cost control. Alternatively, you could undertake a Diploma of Event Management at TAFE which will also see you in a position to become a professional conference planner.

Do I need to join a professional organisation?

While you are not legally required to, it can help to be a member of a body which represents those who have chosen this career. The Professional Conference Organisers Association represents the interests of conference organisers and event managers in Australia and New Zealand. Their aim is to increase the standard of competence and expertise of its members and offer accreditation training and online learning to further the education of its members.

Should I start my own business or be an employee of an event company?

We all dream of a little flexibility in our lives, where we can be our own boss and call all the shots. But be warned, this is a career which can be as stressful as it is rewarding. Take the time to think this through carefully as it can be a large investment of your time and money (not to mention drain on your physical and emotional wellbeing) if you choose to launch your own business.  Having the experience of working for a company, hotel or event centre which specialises in conference and event planning will always be the best way to start. You’ll not only build up an impressive knowledge of the industry from those who already know it best, but you will be able to make contacts along the way – something which is always an advantage when you choose this as your career.

If you’re thinking of undertaking the profession of conference planning, feel free to sample the outstanding facilities on offer at Glen Erin and talk to our dedicated events team today.