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How to get ahead with events – industry’s rising stars’ advice to PAs

Winners of Tomorrow’s Talent 2024, The Meetings Show initiative designed to put the spotlight on emerging talent in the events industry, share their tips for organising successful events and getting ahead in the events sector.  

Organising meetings and events is within the remit of most EA and PA roles, but the events sector is constantly evolving, and demands are increasing, so it can be hard to keep up, let alone deliver a memorable experience for delegates.

Tomorrow’s Talent 2024 winners advise PAs on how to get ahead with events

To help EAs and PAs get off on the right foot when it comes to organising their next event, Tomorrow’s Talent 2024 winners – event professionals at the coalface – share their industry insight and top tips.

As Benedicta Asante, founder, Events 101 notes, there are a rising number of chief events officer roles being created at organisations, demonstrating the importance of events to the wider business and putting the emphasis on delivering impactful events.

“It is impressive to see the events function rising to the c-suite. This means that more companies within this sector are recognising the ROI which events have and are placing this as a key priority for their businesses,” she says.

Being mindful of the trends impacting events is a good way to keep events fresh and relevant. Which ones are Tomorrow’s Talent winners watching?

Megan Earl, conference and events manager at HTS, foresees a greater focus on bigger events being held less frequently (quarterly events will move to annual for example) and more lively programmes, even for conferences with a serious aim.

“Even now, the events with more elements of fun and networking are more successful – they’re experiences people remember,” she suggests.

Inclusivity to cover catering too

If your event includes catering, ensure you’ve thought of everyone, says Iulia Zorzoana, events executive at The Meetings Industry Association (mia), particularly the non-drinkers.

“Many people choose not to consume alcohol for various reasons and there are still instances where the non-alcoholic choice at events is very poor or non-existent,” she says. “We can do better in this regard and make everyone feel included by having a good choice of non-alcoholic drinks. Everyone deserves a fancy drink.”

Knowing the sustainability requirements is one way to get ahead with events

Sustainability is a consideration for many elements of a business and events are no exception. Charlotte Tattersall, event lead at People’s Partnership, says it’s ‘so important’ to identify and address the gaps in this area, advocating a focus on the ‘supply chain, transport and operations of large-scale events.’

Tattersall, who has taken The Complete Sustainable Events Course, is starting to see an impact from implementing some of the learnings.

“An example of this is our senior leaders recently went to a large industry conference in Scotland and instead of flying, which was the preferred choice, I had them take the train up from London instead. A simple way that we can start to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Dominic-Robinson-Tomorrow's-Talent-2024

Dominic Richards

Dominic Richards, director of Zentive, founded his events agency on environmental sustainability values. He says the industry is moving in the right direction, but with sustainability becoming more important it can be worth taking extra consideration.

He says: “We put a lot of effort and time into creating sustainable event management procedures. We have sustainable plans focusing on each area of an event. We have a thorough supplier vetting process and work with suppliers that share the same values. We measure the emissions of all our events and continually work to decrease these.”

A simple to-do-list can save the day

When it comes to executing an event, having a to-do list to check off tasks can keep you on track and prevents you feeling overwhelmed, says Zorzoana, who sees a notebook as an essential aide.

“I like starting my day with writing a to-do list for the day to keep me on track and help me stay organised. Having a to-do list also helps me when I am very busy and as I start working through my tasks, I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore,“ she says.

Being ‘open-minded and willing to constantly learn’ is a philosophy Charlotte Tattersall, advocates whatever event you’re working on.

“Each event brings you something new and no matter how much planning you put in place something will always change,” she cautions.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for help, advise the award-winning event professionals.  Mentors can be an invaluable support – and they don’t have to be found through an official route, adds Richards.

“A mentor doesn’t have to be in the traditional sense where it is an older, more experienced individual. A mentor can be a friend, a partner, an advisor who is there to support you through your troubles and challenges, they can just be your figurative mentor that you go to when life gets tough, or when you need a second opinion.”

Event essentials:

What item wouldn’t you be without when working on an event?

Megan Earl: My phone – how could you not need it?

Dominic Richards: Water bottle. Got to stay hydrated!

Benedicta Asante: Lip gloss. I meet so many different people and I believe presentation is so important, so having dry lips would not be favourable.

Iulia Zorzoana: My notebook. Everything needs to be written down and as I start working my way through tasks I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.