What it takes to be a conference organiser

Ask the expert: Making it in events

Responsible for a portfolio of events by the UK’s leading healthcare marketing agency, Becky Pegg from Cogora, knows a thing or two about what it takes to bring a conference to life. She shares her advice, tips and tricks for making it in the industry...

What’s the secret to a successful conference?

"You need an understanding of the event as a whole to bring all the elements together so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Knowing the venue, the audience, the exhibitor requirements, and executing it through thorough planning, organisation and strong (but friendly) communication."

What is the best piece of advice you could give an organiser starting out?

"Make checklists. As an organiser you have so many things in your head all at once, that checklists with clear deadlines, especially in an excel spreadsheet, really help to separate the different areas. You’ll be able to see clearly what needs doing, who is implementing it and by when."

What essential items can you not live without when you’re onsite?

"Onsite, myself and the team would be lost without our walkie-talkies. Communication is key, from letting the registration team know that we are opening, to making the producer aware that a speaker has arrived. They allow us to communicate instantly, no matter where we are in the venue. We’d be lost without them, and they really do ensure the event runs as smoothly as possible."

What do you enjoy most about your job?

"There are so many elements that I enjoy, it is hard to choose one. I enjoy planning and the healthcare sector, I love helping people to have a good event experience, and it's exciting to be onsite seeing an event come to a successful conclusion. But if I had to choose, it would probably be my team. We are all so supportive and positive that it makes my work a pleasure to come to each day."

What exciting things are coming up for Cogora?

“The General Practice Awards in November, which is celebrating its 10th birthday this year, is always such a great night, full of inspiration and positivity, whilst highlighting some of the amazing work that healthcare professionals in the UK achieve. In 2018 we have a few new elements such as the People’s Choice Award, where members of the public can vote for their favourite surgery, so it really opens it out to everyone. People can follow on twitter @gp_awards or go to the website for details on how to enter."

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in the last few years?

"I think in the last few years the industry has found it more of a challenge getting people to attend events in order to get face to face time with suppliers and their peers. Due to our delegate’s busy lives and the advancement of technology it is easier to Google something on your lunch break than it is to arrange a meeting to discuss it. At Cogora, we have had to try new approaches with our production, planning and marketing to combat the digital movement." 

What would be your career highlight so far?

"After every event, on the journey home, we always do our ‘event highs and lows’, but in my overall career, my highlight would probably be the first time I took over the logistics and management of our General Practice Awards in 2014. It was my first real major project, and it was a challenge, but I loved it. And from there I have worked my way up, to now being Head of Logistics."

Where do you see the industry 10 years from now?

"Even though we are seeing a digital tipping point, with more users seeking information online, I still believe there is a real need for face to face meetings. You just can’t replace that kind of interaction, and the relationships that it forms. So whilst the events may change slightly, with more advanced technology and interactive elements, the core format of bringing people together will remain."

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