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Conference and Banqueting Manager

Conference and banqueting assistants and managers organise private functions such as weddings, parties, dinners and dances or business functions, such as presentations, training events and product launches.

They usually work for a conference centre or venue or for a hotel with function rooms.

Depending on the organisation they work for, tasks may include:

  • liaising with customers over their requirements for an event
  • negotiating prices and taking bookings
  • organising room layouts, equipment, menus and timetables
  • liaising with other staff, such as catering and guest services
  • making sure that events run smoothly and dealing with any problems or last-minute changes.

Assistants often help to welcome guests and delegates, set up and take down tables and equipment or serve food and drink on the day. They may also set up or operate multimedia and audio-visual equipment. Managers may develop sales and marketing strategies for their venue.

Conference and banqueting staff usually work 40 hours a week, often on a rota system, covering evenings and weekends. Early starts and late finishes may be necessary during an event.

Salaries range from around £13,000 to £50,000 a year.

A conference and banqueting assistant or manager should be:

  • quick thinking and good at solving problems
  • able to do several things at once
  • a skilled communicator and negotiator
  • able to pay attention to detail even under pressure
  • able to manage and train people
  • financially aware and computer literate
  • interested in organisational work.

There are no set entry requirements for conference and banqueting assistants, although a qualification in hospitality or marketing can be an advantage.

It is possible to move into conference and banqueting after gaining experience in a junior role within a hotel or conference facility.

Conference and banqueting managers are expected to have previous experience in the hospitality industry, along with a professional qualification, preferably at HND level or above.

The Institute of Hospitality offers several qualifications for managers in hospitality, leisure and tourism. There is also a range of relevant NVQs and other qualifications including food and drink service and multi-skilled hospitality services.

Conference and banqueting managers may progress to general posts in hotel and leisure management or specialised posts such as food and drinks manager.

It is also possible to move into areas such as events or facilities management, training and consultancy, marketing or public relations.

What is the work like?

Conference and banqueting assistants or managers organise and run private functions, such as weddings, parties, dinners and dances, or business functions, such as presentations, training events and product launches.

They usually work for a conference centre or venue or for a hotel with function rooms.

Depending on the organisation they work for, tasks may include:

  • planning marketing strategies for a conference venue
  • liaising with customers over their requirements for an event
  • negotiating prices and taking bookings
  • organising room layouts, equipment, menus and timetables
  • liaising with other staff such as catering and guest services
  • making sure that events run smoothly and dealing with any problems or last-minute changes
  • managing budgets and sales targets
  • recruiting permanent and temporary staff.

Conference and banqueting organisers may need to plan and oversee a number of different functions at the same time.

Assistants often help to welcome guests and delegates, set up and take down tables and equipment or serve food and drink on the day. They may also set up or operate multimedia and audio-visual equipment.

Some aspects of this work are similar to that of specialist events management companies which organise functions and book venues to hold them in. The article Event Organiser has further details.

Hours and environment

Conference and banqueting staff usually work 40 hours a week, often on a rota system, covering evenings and weekends. Early starts and late finishes may be necessary during an event.

They usually work in a suite attached to a hotel, resort, restaurant or stately home or in a purpose-built conference centre.

The work may involve occasional travel to meetings with clients or suppliers, which could involve overnight stays.

Uniforms may be provided.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • Conference and banqueting assistants may earn between around £13,000 and £17,000 a year.
  • Conference and banqueting managers may earn between £22,000 and £35,000.
  • Experienced conference and banqueting managers may earn up to around £50,000 a year.

Some hotel positions include accommodation and food. Employers often offer performance-related bonuses.

Skills and personal qualities

A conference and banqueting assistant or manager should be:

  • quick thinking and good at solving problems
  • able to do several things at once
  • a skilled communicator and negotiator
  • a good salesperson
  • able to pay attention to detail even under pressure
  • able to delegate
  • able to manage and train people
  • a strong team leader with good planning and administrative skills
  • financially aware and computer literate
  • flexible and creative.

Interests

It is important to:

  • like organisational work
  • enjoy meeting and working with a wide range of people.

Getting in

The conference and banqueting industry is a growing area. There tend to be more jobs in cities, although there are opportunities throughout the UK. Assistants and managers can work for conference centres, business centres, leisure facilities, pubs and restaurants and hotels.

Jobs are advertised in trade magazines such as Caterer and Hotelkeeper and Conference & Incentive Travel and on specialist jobs websites such as www.caterer.com Jobs may also be advertised in national and local newspapers, and there are many recruitment agencies that cover this area of work.

Entry routes

There are no set entry requirements for conference and banqueting assistants, although a qualification in hospitality or marketing can be an advantage.

It is possible to move into conference and banqueting after gaining experience in a junior role within a hotel or conference facility. This could include an administrative post or a sales or marketing role.

Conference and banqueting managers are expected to have previous experience in the hospitality industry along with a professional qualification.

Foundation degree, HNC/HND, degree and postgraduate qualifications in events and conference management and similar subjects are available at colleges and universities across the UK.

Entry to a degree is usually with a minimum of two A levels and five GCSEs (A*-C) or the equivalent. Entry to foundation degree and HNC/HND courses is usually with one A level or a BTEC National Diploma or Certificate in a relevant subject. Those without the usual entry requirements for a degree may take an Access course.

Qualifications that may be a useful starting point include:

  • the Diploma in hospitality or in travel and tourism
  • Ascentis Level 1 introduction to the hospitality industry Certificate and Award
  • BTEC Award in principles of customer service in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism and Award, National Certificate and National Diploma in hospitality
  • City & Guilds Introductory Certificate in hospitality
  • EDI Certificate in the principles of event management and in event planning
  • NCFE Certificate in event management.

Hospitality Apprenticeships may also be available. Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer and pay at least £95 a week. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. Young Apprenticeships may also be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available on the Apprenticeship page on this website, from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Training

Training is usually on the job and may include health and safety regulations and first aid procedures. Entrants often begin by working under the supervision of experienced colleagues.

The Institute of Hospitality offers several qualifications for managers in hospitality, leisure and tourism:

  • Business Skills Certificate (Level 2)
  • Certificate in Management (Level 3)
  • Diploma in Management (Level 4).

There is also a range of relevant NVQs, including food and drink service and multi-skilled hospitality services and other qualifications in hospitality supervision and management.

Getting on

Conference and banqueting managers may progress to general posts in hotel and leisure management or specialised posts such as food and drinks manager. It may be possible to move into freelance work.

It is also possible to move into areas such as events or facilities management, training and consultancy, marketing or public relations.

There may be opportunities to work overseas.

Further information

Association for Conferences and Events, Riverside House, High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3SG. 01480 457595. Website: www.aceinternational.org

Association of British Professional Conference Organisers, Wellington Park, Belfast BT9 6DJ. 028 9038 7475. Website: www.abpco.org

British Hospitality Association, Queens House, 55-56 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BH. 020 7404 7744. Website: www.bha.org.uk

Institute of Hospitality, Trinity Court, 34 West Street, Sutton SM1 1SH. 020 8661 4900. Website: www.instituteofhospitality.org

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House, 38 Market Square, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1LH. 01895 817000. Websites: www.people1st.co.uk and www.uksp.co.uk

Springboard UK, 3 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LP. 020 7497 8654. CareerScope: 0845 293 2515. Website: www.springboarduk.net

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

 

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