… and other essentials to organising effective functions
There was the conference organiser who
‘lost’ a German business delegate in a game
reserve. He was found fast asleep under a
tree the next morning, mercifully uneaten by
lions or leopards.
Then there was the personal assistant who
got the date wrong on a visa for a keynote
speaker which saw the very important guest
spend the night in a flea-ridden Athens jail
before being deported the next morning.
A well run conference seems so seamless and
simple that executives take them for granted
and may assign an event that means millions
to the company in terms of image and client
relationships to a trusty office personal
assistant who doesn’t have a clue. Worse,
she may not tell anyone she doesn’t have a
clue until the wheels fall off.
June heralds the start to conference and
events season in South Africa. By August
diaries are filling and from September to
December conferences and events jam every
corporate and public sector calendar.
Because the area is a minefield of
challenges Johannesburg training
organisation BizTech has a training
programme,Masterminding the Perfect Business
Function or Event to help novices and
experts fine hone their skills.
Liesl Gini, one of BizTech’s trainers has
expertise as a management consultant in six
nations – it was she who was the hapless
keynote speaker incarcerated in an Athens
jail when a personal assistant in the
multi-national organisation that
commissioned her failed with the first step
of successful conference and event
management: attention to detail.
It is little surprise that Liesl speaks with
particular passion on the subject.
She was a key note speaker for an
organisation that was “having a strategic
management meeting with delegates from a
number of companies. My flight arrived at
11pm but immigration authorities would not
let me in because the PA had put the wrong
dates on my visa. I spent the night in jail
in Athens, I couldn’t even lie down there
were so many fleas.
“At 8am the next morning I was deported to
Zurich. The cost to that company was
immense, a full day of everyone’s time was
wasted and they had to book everyone in
longer and find a means to get me back into
the country so I could do my job.”
She says there are five essential rules for
an events or functions organiser:
“Build a network of trusted suppliers.
Ensure you know beforehand the quality of
what you order. In some communities, as an
example, a bunch of flowers comes in a
cellophane sheath, but in others it comes in
a vase – be specific.
“Delegate, but check that the work is done
“When you book a venue ask the nature of
other events. One high-powered executive
dinner was ruined by a youth magazine’s wild
party in the venue next door.
“Use mind maps when you plan. They allow you
to add detail – it is better to start with a
helicopter view of the big picture, put the
event in the middle, then rotate out to
venue, people, the who, what, when, why and
“Be creative. Do something a bit different,
but always be tasteful.
“Keep speeches to 30 to 45 minutes for a key
note speaker. Have someone introduce the
speaker. Brief the speaker about the type of
Study the event that you and others consider
successful, Gini says and never be afraid to
ask for help.
Learn from failure. She gives as the example
of the hapless, thankfully uneaten German
tourist. “A PA from a multi-national brought
in technicians for its annual event from 15
countries. She didn’t arrange for everyone
to arrive on the same day and had people
arriving over three days. They were not met
at the airport but advised to take taxis to
a game lodge.
“No one greeted them at the lodge or was
planned activities for them other than
opening the bar. By the time the conference
began everyone was sloshed and sunburnt. One
evening a German technician who had
over-imbibed wandered off into the bush and
fell asleep under a tree where he was found
the next morning.”
Gini says, “there should have been someone
to meet and greet. Transport should have
been arranged. Someone should have been at
the venue to find things for them to do.
“Any event is a form of marketing; it
displays the corporate image and enhances or
detracts from brand building.
“People talk about negative experiences. If
a person has a negative experience he or she
is likely to tell 10 people. .”
“There is little more rewarding than having
a successful function, watching the
enjoyment on participant’s faces, receiving
the thanks and emails afterward,” Liza van
Wyk, CEO of BizTech says. “This is proving
one of our most popular courses and as South
Africa becomes an African and international
destination for conferences and events, it
is not hard to see why.”
Biz Tech has courses on Masterminding the
Perfect Business Function or Event in
Johannesburg from 23 to 24 July or 5 to 6
November this year.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
LIZA VAN WYK, CEO AstroTech 011 453 5291 or
Issued by MediaOnLine