QA with a PA; The Conference Care Way

Name: Fiona Macpherson

Job Title: PA to Marketing & Digital Director

Company: VisitScotland


1.      What type of meetings or events do you get involved with as part of your role?

I work within the Marketing and Digital Directorate at VisitScotland which comprises around 130 people, and my role involves organising a number of different events. We regularly hold “Away Days” to ensure team cross-collaboration on our projects which helps us to refocus on priorities and reconnect with each other. I also arrange ad hoc meetings, private dinners, and assist with events for our Marketing Academy which includes sourcing venues, and organising speakers, catering and transportation.


2.      What top 3 things are most important to you and VisitScotland when arranging a meeting or event and why?

When choosing a venue it is important that it is of the right calibre. Being in the public sector we do have to be smart when it comes to budget, but of course that doesn’t mean we are willing to compromise on quality or health and safety. Easy access by public transport, plenty of car parking and a good in-house support team at the venue is essential for any event. Good quality catering is also hugely important – it always seems to be the one thing everyone remembers!


3.      What do you look for in a venue, do you have any particular favourites?

We tend to choose venues which match the event’s purpose, and being in the marketing department, we’re always open to trying something a little different to energise our events. Ultimately we like something light, bright and airy to inspire our delegates and encourage positivity and engagement. Once we’ve made our selection, having event staff and particularly an AV technician on hand on the day is helpful too for those last minute changes or potential hitches with presentations. We recently held an event at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh after Conference Care helped us with our initial search and negotiations, and their events team were very helpful, enthusiastic and supportive.


4.      What are the biggest challenges for you when organising meetings or events?

I would say time is one of the biggest challenges. PAs handle many tasks simultaneously, and organising an event on top of your day to day routine can really have an impact on your workload. I was asked to organise a large event shortly after joining VisitScotland, and I was very conscious that I needed to make a good first impression, so the pressure was on! Luckily I picked up the phone to Conference Care and within 24 hours I had a comprehensive list of venues to choose from that were perfect, available and in budget.


5.      Do you find you plan events well in advance or do you find yourself dealing with last minute requests?

Events tend to be planned fairly well in advance but of course nothing is set in stone; PAs always expect the unexpected which is why having Conference Care on speed dial is essential!


6.      How did you find out about Conference Care’s venue finding services?

I met Pauline Beattie, Conference Care’s Head of Sales – Scotland, at an Edinburgh PA Networking Group event a couple of years ago.  It struck me how personable and knowledgeable she was, and I could see myself easily working with her. Then one of my colleagues at VisitScotland recommended Conference Care’s services to me after having used them herself, so I decided to find Pauline’s business card and email for advice. Their support throughout the whole process saved me so much time and a considerable amount of stress.


7.      Having had the experience of Conference Care, what really made the difference to you when working with us?

What really stood out for me was the standard of service, high level of experience and great communication from everyone I came into contact with at Conference Care; I was able to draw from their extensive knowledge and had total confidence my event was in safe hands. They took care of everything, providing me with a fantastic selection of venues, negotiating rates, adding value and accompanying me on site visits and assisting with negotiation of venue contracts. The follow up support after the event was also invaluable.


8.      Would you recommend Conference Care to your peers? How would you describe the benefits or working with us to others?

Yes I would definitely recommend Conference Care’s services – in fact I already have! As a PA, building personal relationships is a very important part of your role. Working with Conference Care was just so easy, everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful; they almost felt like an extension of our VisitScotland family. If you have a last minute request, need a venue, want to save time and money and want a hassle free, zero cost venue finding service then give Conference Care a call!


For more information on VisitScotland see

Call our expert team for your next event on 02476 369720.

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