Conference News May 2022 | Page 26

26 Feature


Cameron Roberts chats to Heather Lishman about celebrating a decade as the association director for ABPCO
eing the association director for The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers ( ABPCO ), gives one a unique perspective on the conference industry . By talking to organisers , suppliers , associates and destinations , Heather Lishman gets a slice of the industry few are privy to . Celebrating her 10th year at the
ABPCO organises many events helm , I spoke to Lishman about how the industry has changed during her tenure , what comes next for conference organisers and how ABPCO sees the future of our industry .
Known associates Representing event organisers in the association means ABPCO is both a force for change as well as being beholden to it . Lishman speaks about how the association has morphed since she joined and why it is a force for good within the industry .
She says : “ What ’ s great about associations is that you get different focuses every couple of years , because the chairs that
Heather Lishman , association director , ABPCO
“ I think if you stand still , you ’ ll go backwards – the question now is how do you learn quickly enough ?” come in have different experiences and different knowledge . I think it ’ s slightly different if you work in a corporate environment where you ’ ve got a five-year plan .”
While the experiences of the chairs may differ , the shared experience of the pandemic has impacted event organisers across the industry , Lishman sees the positives , saying : “ I think we see where the industry is going , the focus on technology was greater , it just accelerated because of Covid-19 .
“ I think conference organisers and the events that they run are changing the world . At their heart , and they do have a heart , they can see that if the world needs changing , they can help to do that ,” she continues .
Technology talks Something Lishman has highlighted often is the impact of technology on ABPCO ’ s members , and certainly hybrid events and virtual events sit on the list of priorities for many event organisers . But this was not always the case . Lishman says : “ When you look back to the first campaign I was involved with when I joined ABPCO , it was getting Wi-Fi in venues . So the industry has changed – you don ’ t necessarily notice it when you go through those incremental steps through the years , but it ’ s changed a lot .”
Despite this move to a more technology-focused industry , many organisers must keep in mind the benefits of being physically in the room with other people . I ask Lishman about her view on the changing face of live events .
She says : “ I think we are human , we like to meet in person . You don ’ t get the same serendipity of who you meet when it ’ s virtual , maybe you don ’ t even see who the other delegates are . There are still those coffee moments or water cooler www . conference-news . co . uk