I’m really looking forward to getting back to hosting courses from September after lockdown. It’s been a quiet few months of being furloughed and now with a phased return to working at the lab rearranging the postponed course dates.
I always arrive at the venue the day before a course around late afternoon, on the odd occasion if the room is free I will have liaised with the hotel conference team about set up so get this checked to make sure the room is how I like it, check the AV so it’s seamless for the lecturer connecting their laptop for the lectures.
A typical course day starts early around 6.30am to get presentable and set the room up if it was occupied the night before, we’re very lucky as we use the same couple of venues so over time I’ve built up a good relationship with the conference teams and they know I’m very particular and like things done in a certain manner and most of the time they get it right.
Once the room has passed my inspection its off for breakfast where we quite often we catch up with delegates and many a time have had to move table as what has started off with 3 of us ends up with 8 or more eating together.
Lectures start at 9am and everyone is pretty prompt ….. on Day 1 especially. We have unlimited refreshments throughout the day with a break at 10.30 which for the stragglers who didn’t make it to breakfast they can get their fill of the goodies which can range from bacon butties (my fave) to Frittata (for those who know me, well lets just say “I’d take it off the menu”).
Often at some point I’m approached by a delegate with a shopping request ,sometimes a forgotten toothbrush and no I’m not making that up to various shall we say obscure requests….to date I’ve posted important documents for someone buying a practice. Been shirt shopping for someone after knowing him for less than 24 hours then even ended up ironing it for him. US dollars, ingredients for someone who was making cupcakes for his nieces birthday party…….the chemist run for the usual paracetamol, hay fever tablets and Veet for men on more than one occasion!!
We break for lunch at 12.30 for an hour and the hotel provides a varied buffet, I always check with delegates before courses if they have dietary requirements so we can inform the hotel if we have any vegetarians, vegans, coeliacs etc.
Although over the last few years one of my vegan delegates chose to eat tiger prawns and fillet steak and another a bacon butty.
Over lunch I explain to the delegates that we usually go out to eat in the evenings as group, by no means is this compulsory but as a general rule most come along. I’ll book the restaurant and taxis so it’s just a case of turning up with your wallet. It’s very informal and really helps everyone bond over discussions about work and personal life.
The afternoon resumes and usually at this point I try to catch up on some emails along with a meeting with the events manager at the hotel just to clarify timings and dates for future events, I think this is an important part of my time away as face to face meetings builds up the rapport and many time if I need to ask a favour or request a last minute change or bedroom booking request for the unorganised delegates they are very accommodating in helping me out.
After lectures finish at around 5pm we check over the following days lectures and get any hands on equipment ready before we get to finish. Then it’s a bit of down time to get changed before we head off to the bar to relax before dinner.
The evenings as I mentioned are very informal but a great chance to network and to get to know everyone a bit better. It’s just a great way to finish off the day……. Although a few have been known to take it to the extreme, but thats another story for another day!!