It Can Pay to Answer the Conference Call; but Beware of the Pitfalls in Organising a Weekend Away for Employees Professional Secretary Incorporating Office Appointments

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Byline: SUSAN GRAY

IF you feel the need to take on a further challenge within your organisation, suggest hosting a residential weekend conference and watch your stress levels rocket. However, these conferences are big business in the events world and, as such, they are an ideal way of proving yourself to your boss. Beware, though - they can be full of pitfalls for the unprepared.

The first pitfall, according to Mike Kiy, managing director of event organisers Latitude 51, is not knowing the purpose of the event. "However lavish your budget, there's no point saying, 'We want an event because we always have one at this time of year' or because the boss thinks it's a good idea," Kiy says. "You have to know the purpose of what you're intending to do."

Entertaining valuable clients or rewarding high- performing employees are perfectly valid reasons for a weekend event. With a clear objective in mind - in this case to have a memorable and enjoyable time - selecting venues, speakers and activities becomes much easier.

Equally, the purpose of the weekend conference could be for senior managers to listen to the leading thinkers and practitioners in your industry, and for this you will probably need a different kind of venue, with less emphasis on activities.

Given the choice between Monte Carlo and Morecambe, always plump for Monte Carlo, not just for the glamour factor but for practicality, too.

Weekendlong events in the UK can be a logistical nightmare because some people will arrive by car, some by plane and some by train.

All will expect to be met and can arrive any time between Friday afternoon and Saturday lunchtime.

However, choosing a European venue with a limited number of flights gives you far more control over arrival and departure times, with delegates and speakers arriving in manageable blocks rather than maddening dribs and drabs.

Talking of speakers, nobody wants to give up their weekend to hear the deputy head of purchasing talk about how he drives a hard bargain. People are sacrificing their precious time off to hear someone exciting. In fact, a whole platform of exciting speakers. …