Ruth Lilian
Director and conference manager
L&R Contract Business Services

Business Events News recently caught up with Ruth Lilian, who has been involved in the meetings and events industry for the last 40 years and is director and conference manager with L&R Contract Business Services. She was awarded an Order of Australia for her work in the industry and involvement with not for profit organisations.

How have business events changed since you first started?

Technology certainly didn’t play a part and choice of venues – you took what you could. The word business and or event didn’t exist; you organised a meeting or you had a function. It was an exciting day when I was given an electric typewriter rather than a manual one and an even more exciting day when the word processer arrived.

What do you think the future will look like for business events? Will robots take over?

I hope robots won’t take over – we need to see a happy, smiley face. Robots will be with us, but I certainly wouldn’t want a robot to hand me my satchel at a business event.

What’s the strangest event you’ve been involved with in your time with the industry?

An international meeting done remotely comes to mind. I had to find a venue in a town no more than two hours out of Munich for a conference. This was done well and truly remotely by email and phone, and with clients, venues and suppliers who didn’t all speak English. I did not attend the conference but it all worked.

What are some cardinal sins when managing an event?

Misreading contracts and signing off on what is not achievable with venues, hotels and other services.

Overestimating numbers because appropriate research hasn’t been done. Not insuring events. Not allowing for contingencies when preparing budgets.

Poor proof reading Overestimating numbers  – nothing worse than seeing the errors on a website or program.

Don’t skimp on the audio-visual required for a successful event – people remember the bed they slept in; the food they ate; and how terrible the presentations were because of the AV.

I still use a “to do list” and everyone should – what a joy to see all that is required being ticked off.

There’s been a bit of unrest in the industry about the ‘MICE’ acronym – what’s your take on it?

The MICE acronym isn’t my favourite.

I believe we are part of the meetings and events industry.

I would love to see it as the meetings and events profession – perhaps in time to come it will be.

MICE is very strong in Asia and so to try and change it would probably be very difficult.

I certainly don’t think the acronym rings out in the corporate or not for profit sectors.

If you could create an animal hybrid, what would it be and why?

Most animal hybrids unfortunately are sterile, so I would want to set about creating an IVF program for them. I would certainly want it to beenergetic and have a love for life as I do.