Steffen Kalverboer

The human factor

Organising meetings, conferences, fairs, sessions or any other kind of meeting is always a combination of the available resources and the human factor. Not just for the planners themselves, but definitely also for specialised suppliers. The resources such as your budget, a location, AV equipment, catering, meeting materials etc., are often clearly set out or can be found out, for example using (online) media such as Conference Matters. On the other hand, combining the human factor in the right way is a completely different story!

It all begins with basic/theoretic knowledge that has become more and more available in recent years thanks to specialised courses or as part of these courses. And then you can really start applying and expanding that knowledge in real life! Gaining experience (i.e. learning from your mistakes), learning to improvise, working together, gaining confidence, dealing with last-minute problems are all necessary to get the instinctive feeling of a true meeting professional. Many people who I speak to in the meeting industry also agree that you sometimes have to be a bit mad too.

Flexible contracts

Unfortunately, in recent years I have seen a trend where not enough is invested, or where companies invest in the wrong things during the final, important phase. Whereas the crisis first resulted in people being fired, after that there were many short-term or flexible contracts that have created a huge carousel of staff coming and going. Specific tasks are also being cut up and outsourced in small fragments. Important knowledge and experience are replaced by trainees because they cost less and then they are thrown straight in at the deep end. I have seen plenty of meetings, big and small, that have resulted in drama for clients, sponsors and/or participants.

Dare to invest

Organising meetings really is a completely different subject and I think that the human factor it involves is the most important and also the most difficult. It is up to all organisations, both planners and suppliers, to (dare to) invest in their meeting professionals. To offer trainees an educational time together with an experienced professional, let people develop themselves through industry associations, certification programmes or networking meetings, and above all give them confidence, appreciation and appropriate pay. The future of this fantastic industry is not just about the next meeting, but many more afterwards!