Experiencing International Confex

Lia Bover Armstrong, Event Management student

International Confex is the leading exhibition for event planners: delivering ideas, inspiration and a great opportunity to expand your network and create business relationships in the industry. This event is free to attend, and it provides educational seminars and debates which will enhance your professional skills and expand your knowledge.

The event has been going for 35 years and lasts 2 days, usually, in February or March and it is hosted at the Olympia Conference and Exhibition Centre in London with over 8,000 visitors from different parts of the world.

These days, when recruiting, businesses look for someone not only with a degree but also someone with experience, so as an Events Management student, I wanted to volunteer in some events to gain more of an insight into the sector and experience as this would benefit me in the future.

Confex has been the first event I have volunteered for and I thought it was a great opportunity to learn from and start getting connexions. Sometimes when volunteering, organisers cover for some or all the expenses which is good as everyone knows student life can be a bit expensive and these cases can motivate you if the event is far from where you live. In my case for Convex, they covered my train fare and gave me a packed lunch for both days.

As I had to start at 8.30 am on the first day, I travelled down to London the day before to settle in and prepare for the next day. I was staying very close to the venue, one stop away with the London Overground to be exact, so travelling the next morning was easy, however, as it was rush hour, the train was full, and you barely had any space.

As I got there, I went through the regular protocol of security, printing my badge off and being scanned in. Once I had gone through, I was told where to go and met Duncan Siegle, the Director of the event, who was very friendly and helpful.

As Duncan had emailed us prior to the event our respectful duties, he showed us the theatres that each of us had to manage and made sure we knew what do to and, in case of help, where to go to.

There was a total of 6 theatres: Keynote theatre, Key Skills theatre, Personal Development theatre, Future PA theatre and Event Management and UK VA theatre.

Our duties included scanning badges as delegates arrived for each seminar, being a microphone runner for any Q&A and tidying up the theatre.

Most of the seminars were pre-book sessions but we were allowed to listen to each of those talks and some were very beneficial as they would give tips and theories about what and what not to do.

These seminars were silent seminars which consisted in delegates having to wear headphones. I thought it was a great idea, as sometimes, when in a big event such as Confex has a lot of visitors, you can’t always hear what speakers are saying and also, I thought it was a great way to create less acoustic contamination.

Another thing that was sustainable was how at Olympia, all of the waste is processed off site and is either recycled or converted into energy, which is part of their Grand Plan.

Finally, for the last hour of each day I was able to have a good look around the event and was impressed with the amount of new event technology offered and other event supplies available.

All in all, I was very satisfied with the feedback I received, I was able to learn a lot of useful things from the seminars, met new people and learned how even big events like this still have last minute problems but with a great team, you can get fast solutions.

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