My Event World - Simon Thompson

Simon Thompson, MD of online venue and accommodation finding agency Conferences Group, on driving a Ferrari, working for Fifa and a bad experience at The Belfry.

My Event World - Simon Thompson
My Event World - Simon Thompson

I got into the events industry because I loved my degree in International Hotel Management and subsequently went on to work within hotels. Through that I got involved in the contracting of hotels for the Fifa Accommodation Bureau and Ryder Cup Travel Services, before identifying a gap in the market for an online venue finding agency.

I have worked here since November 2004.

I was attracted to this particular role because I enjoy helping people to find the right venues for their meetings and events. My experience in hotel management and events meant that I felt confident in my ability to create a service that combined technology with expert venue finding and customer service.

Not many people know that I was responsible for the team accommodation during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

My worst experience at an event was when 25,000 people all tried to leave The Belfry at the same time after a late match play in 2002. There just wasn’t sufficient ground transportation to cope with the number of spectators. People were still waiting to get home at 10pm. Let’s just say a few heads rolled.

If there's one thing I've learnt it’s you must learn the lesson from every mistake made.

The best event I've been involved in was an event I hosted in Spa, Belgium for the Ferrari Maranello Challenge. It was my responsibility to organise corporate hospitality for one of the teams. It was incredible; I got to pick the best restaurants, the best hotels and entertainment, and do a lap around the track in a Ferrari. A dream come true.

If I could do it all over again I would probably do it all the same but throw in a few more Ferrari rides for good measure.

The one thing I can't stand is negativity. It saps your energy and is a complete waste of time.

Outside of work I spend my time with my wonderful partner and baby boy.

If money were no object I would hold huge international charity events that everybody would want to be a part of.

The one event I will never miss is EIBTM: it is one of the biggest global meetings and events tradeshows. It is exciting, thought-provoking and never fails to attract the best in the industry.  

The next 12 months will be very interesting as we continue to expand the company internationally.

If I could switch places with anyone in the industry it would be no one. I honestly can’t think of anyone I would switch with. I really enjoy my role.

If I ruled the event industry I would stop companies from getting exploited by the big agencies that force venues on to clients just to generate a higher commission. It’s criminal.

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