Exhibition and conference organisers plan and co-ordinate events such as exhibitions, trade shows and conferences. These can be major events such as the Ideal Home Exhibition, the Chelsea Flower Show, or party political conferences, to smaller local or regional events.
Organisers can work for event management companies, for exhibition or conference venues, or as freelance organisers. The work is generally split into three areas. It is possible to work in any or all of the following:
Marketing - researching the level of interest in a specific event, and finding suitable venues and dates to hold it. The publicity, design and printing of tickets, posters and promotional items to advertise the event is then organised.
Sales - selling stand space to exhibitors by telephone or face-to-face and arranging sponsorship. During an exhibition sales staff may contact all the exhibitors to try to sell space for future events.
Operations - co-ordinating all the practical aspects, from planning timetables, booking venues to supervising contractors such as exhibition designers, stand suppliers, audio-visual production companies and caterers. During the event, operations staff work closely with venue staff, and deal with enquiries from exhibitors, speakers, sponsors and visitors/delegates. They supervise health and safety issues and ensure the venue is cleared safely.
Please see the Events Manager profile for related information.
Exhibition/conference organisers are mostly office based and spend a lot of time on the telephone. They travel to meet potential sponsors and exhibitors, and to visit venues, contractors and other exhibitions.
Just before, and during an event, operations staff work long hours, often including weekends to meet deadlines.
Organising exhibitions or conferences can also be a role undertaken by someone with other duties in an organisation. For example, their main role may be in sales and marketing, human resources or as a personal assistant, but they manage occasional events when necessary.
The skills required depend on whether the exhibition organiser’s role is in sales, marketing or operations. However, all exhibition organisers should:
Most exhibition staff work for one of the hundreds of exhibition companies all over the country. Half of the exhibitions industry is in London and the south east. Other key areas of employment are based around major exhibition venues in Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
There is no formal promotion structure. Experience in sales, marketing or operations can lead to management positions. Many organisers work freelance, or set up their own company.
If you would like to know anything about Exhibition Organiser that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO)
Charles House (6th Floor)
148-149 Great Charles Street
Tel: 0121 212 1400
Tel: 01737 779928
Chartered Institute of Marketing
Tel: 01628 427500