A day in the life of a Conferencing Manager
You’re speaking at an event in front of 200 people. They’re watching your every move in silence as you try and fail to get your video, the highlight of your seminar, to play its vital soundtrack through the ceiling speakers. Your usual solutions aren’t working, no-one is here to help and – to make matters worse – this event is being recorded. Maybe, just to make this scenario even less fun, the sun is shining through the window directly into your eyes and you’re sweltering because the room temperature has steadily increased throughout the day.
The fear of the above, and similar, scenarios is why I test audio and microphones before anyone else is in the room. It’s why I’m stood at the back of the room behind your delegates five minutes before your scheduled time on the agenda for video, ready to help if things don’t go as expected. It’s why the blinds are already lowered in anticipation of where the sun will be throughout your event and why the air conditioning was set and checked first thing this morning.
As Conferencing Manager here at Southampton Science Park, I thoroughly enjoy helping my customers host the event they envisioned. While I enjoy solving problems (it makes me feel useful), I much prefer to solve them before an event is in motion. Challenges will still occasionally arise but that’s why I schedule speaker changeover times into my day and make sure that my mobile doesn’t leave my hand when there is an event on at the Science Park. I see it as my job to use all my experience to anticipate what could go wrong and put measures in place to avoid it actually happening.
I spend much of my non-event time gathering all the information I can on what each and every customer wants from us as a venue, and using that information to plan effectively. This can be as simple as needing wider access space between tables. Often, it’s taking delivery of marketing supplies and banners the day before. Sometimes, it’s a case of me working from inside the event room for the day so that you know exactly where I am if you need something adjusting like the lighting, temperature or volume. I have even been called upon to remove a large spider from a delegate’s bag.
My days can be quite physical because they involve moving furniture and maintaining equipment in our Axis Conference Centre as well as our other eleven on-site meeting rooms. I will spend some days constantly walking between venues helping customers, and others I’ll spend sitting down with a pile of admin, but each day is different and, for that, I’m grateful. I’m encouraged to treat the Science Park Conferencing Department as a business in its own right and this keeps me focused on our customers’ required commercial outcomes. Over my 9 years working here at Southampton Science Park, I have been lucky enough to build relationships with business both based on The Park and in the local area.
2020 has been a peculiar one but I’m using the time that I’d normally spend booking and helping with events to complete my Business Management qualification and get our venues ready for smaller, socially distant events for our customers.