Book review: Conventional wisdom

Back through the centuries town squares were the key venues for citizens to meet, talk, argue and celebrate. People have felt the need to meet throughout the ages; trade and commerce driving the process.

Today, terms used for meetings may vary, and include: ‘summit’, ‘conference’, ‘assembly’, ‘convention’, ‘congress’, ‘AGM’, ‘briefing’, ‘training’, ‘incentive’, and although the events themselves may have different formats and emphases, the essential ingredients and objectives are the same.

Now whole departments at universities teach events management and one of the most authoritative authors of textbooks for students is Tony Rogers, a consultant specialisting in conferences and business tourism. His new book, Conferences and Conventions: A Global Industry 3rd edition, gathers a gamut of information and insights into the industry and is an essential primer for the serious student.

In his introduction, Rogers points out that meetings are at the forefront of modern communications, whether for internal communications or as a vehicle for communicating with key audiences.

Rogers examines the industry’s origins, structure, economic, social and environmental impacts, education, training and career opportunities, as well as the future development.

The new edition also explores the industry’s links with the wider tourism industry, and suggests there should be a realignment, putting a greater focus on designing, executing and measuring meeting content so they have a purposeful impact on participants, thus creating greater value for stakeholders.

Rogers suggests there should be greater emphasis on the role that meetings play in economic, professional and educational development, promoting the benefits they provide in knowledge exchange, networking and motivation and showing clearly what such business events accomplish.

The 3rd edition has been updated to reflect current trends and emerging topics, and features new content on social media, web-based marketing, the use of technology, experiential marketing and events, the role of trade shows in conventions and issues of sustainability. There are also updated case studies.

For those that find the jargon a chore, Rogers sets out a detailed meetings and events industry lexicon. And for students who like to mix their history with their meetings, he quotes an article from our own sister publication, Conference & Meetings World from 2010 (‘History in the making’) which reminded that some of the most significant moments in world history were decided not on the battlefield, but in the conference hall. Examples given were:

  • The first Continental Congress (1774), in Philadelphia, USA, to protest the ‘Intolerable Acts’, passed by the British Government
  • The Quebec Conference (1864), which led to the creation of the Dominion of Canada
  • The Paris Meeting (1919-1920), which led to the Treaty of Versailles and defined the structure of post-war Europe
  • The Yalta Conference (1945), in Livadia Palace, USSR, the second of the two major wartime meetings between the ‘Big Three’: Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, following the Tehran conference of 1943.

Rogers also lists what he believes could have been the launch event for our contemporary conference industry, the Congress of Vienna, September 1814 to June 1815.

As well as interesting slices of history and some insights from global industry leaders, the new book from Rogers is packed with plenty of analysis, advice and tips, both for the serious student and for those keen to improve their general industry knowledge.

Conferences and Conventions: A Global Industry 3rd edition, by Tony Rogers is published by Routledge. Paperback: 978-0-415-52669-2 £31.99

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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