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The Conference People celebrates 30th anniversary

Eastbourne based venue finding agency celebrating 30 years in industry

Pictured: The Conference People is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month

The Conference People is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.

The agency was founded by Robert Enefer and Maggie Doyle on 1 June 1986.

MD Enefer said: “We had one room, one typewriter, two desks and two phones.  We had an email account which we only needed to check once a week. Initially we concentrated on venue finding, and we were part of a very small group of venue finding agencies in those days. 

“Our very first piece of business was a roadshow around the UK for Matchbox cars. It would be challenging now even with 30 years’ experience as it was a detailed brief with extremely complicated requirements. But it sealed our fate – we were both hooked.”

The agency won its first event management contract in 1988 and Enefer was a founding member of the Meetings Industry Association in 1990, before the firm struck big with a contract with the FA at Euro 96. 

Enefer said: “Euro 96 was a real turning point. We managed all of the accommodation and the hospitality for the Football Association at the Royal Garden Hotel. It became home for the duration of the competition. 

Following on from the success of the project, further expansion meant we had outgrown our Trinity Trees offices and we moved into a lovely townhouse, Lismore House. Our ever growing team fitted perfectly into all four floors.”  

In 2001, the firm experienced its first real low with the loss of founding partner, Maggie Doyle, to motor neurone disease. Enefer said: “Maggie continued to work as long as she could – and losing her was a genuine loss to the industry. But as she would have wanted, we continued to move forward.”  

2014 was a year of change for The Conference People, with a move into a new home in Upperton Farmhouse in Eastbourne and the launch of Fuse, a stand alone, social enterprise event management company to look after the majority of the firm’s event management business.

And Enefer added that after 30 years, he still feels positive about the future of the company and the industry as a whole.

“The meetings industry has always been unpredictable but never more so than now”, he said. “One version is of a gloomy future with the referendum result, tighter budgets, greater demand on ROI and international terrorism. 

“But we have found in the last 30 years that there are always opportunities, it might be harder to find them sometimes, but still there. We have developed a brilliant array of clients across all areas – blue chip, association and third sector and there are always events of some sort being planned. Our industry will always be fascinating, challenging, rewarding and exciting.”

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