A conference manager may be referred to as an events planner or an events manager. They, the conference manager, the events planner, and the events manager, work in conference centres and will have the responsibility of managing staff that help to organise and to run conferences as well as other types of events.
A conference manager’s job responsibilities can vary. It depends on the event and also on the venue where the event is being held. Generally, however, a conference manager will oversee all of the events that are involved in the particular conference or event from the early planning to the final clean up.
Obviously, every conference venue is different from the next one. This means that the tasks of a conference manager are ever-changing.
The conference manager is responsible for the staff and the services at the conference centre, inclusive of:
- The accommodation
- Marketing and PR
- Front of house/ reception
The conference manager must ensure that the services provided fulfill the clients’ requirements and that each event runs smoothly and efficiently.
It’s important to find a balance between effective business management and customer satisfaction. Often that will mean solving problems on the go and dealing with last-minute changes.
A conference manager must also continually develop the business. They achieve this by planning ahead, managing marketing campaigns, and maximising generated income by budgeting efficiently.
The Conference Manager’s Responsibilities
The activities of a conference manager vary in accordance with the conference centre size and the services offered by the centre. As an example, a conference manager that works in a larger-sized centre will have the responsibility of coordinating the operational team. This team includes accommodation and catering managers.
In a smaller centre, a conference manager might choose to subcontract various services out to various external companies.
A conference centre manager will need to:
- Handle customer enquiries, comments, and complaints.
- Effectively communicate with the management team on a daily basis to plan work schedules and check the requirements of clients.
- Manage financial planning and budgeting.
- Ensure the smooth running of events.
- Deal with staff recruitment, training, monitoring and organising of staff.
- Handle conference centre sales and marketing including branding, pricing, dealing with promotions and promotional materials.
- Carry out market research to identify potential future business.
- Negotiate with suppliers and external service providers when necessary.
- Ensure that licensing laws, health and safety, and any other legal regulations are all complied with.
- Invest in equipment that is required for the conference centre.
As mentioned, no two conference centres are the same. This means that the tasks a conference manager has to complete will vary from one day to the next.
For example, at some venues parking could be an issue whereas at other venues there may be onsite parking facilities whereby guests are welcome to leave their vehicles. If venue-specific parking is unavailable it is the responsibility of the conference manager to find suitable nearby parking.
The conference facilities will likewise need to be prepared in advance so that after guests have parked their vehicles they can easily find their way to the conference centre.
If food is a requirement at the conference it is the responsibility of the conference manager to oversee the kitchen and waiting services. When a caterer is hired the conference manager will work closely with the catering company to ensure correct food preparation and that the food is timely served.
The facilities must be made ready for the next event so cleaning-up duties will be delegated by the conference manager. Some conference centres employ their own cleaning staff, though others contract cleaning services out to external companies. Either way, it is up to the conference manager to ensure that the cleaning is done properly and timely.
A further remit of a conference manager is bookkeeping. The conference manager could have the responsibility for handling staff payroll, for obtaining contracts with third-party vendors, filing all related documentation, and a variety of alternative clerical duties that pertain to the conference centre’s successful on-going operation.