Someone's Got To Do It: Keith Betton Is Head Of Corporate Affairs At Abta

How long have you been doing your job?

Eight years but I have been in PR for about 13 years and have worked as a convention organiser for 30.

What does being a convention organiser involve?

Recently, I've been organising this week's Abta convention in Cairns. We start looking for a venue three years before a convention - it needs to have exhibition space to seat up to 18,000 people and be close enough to hotels and other facilities. Last year, it was Playa de Las Americas in Tenerife. Again this year I wanted it to be somewhere on the tourist map.

What are the challenges of your job?

Getting the destination right. I also have to find out how to get the delegates there and back quickly. The host country must also be able to organise things and understand the convention's aims and objectives. Weather is another big factor. With outside venues, you need to have a back-up plan in case it rains. Finally, you must provide for about 50 journalists. The facilities have to be really good - it's a bad idea to start with a miserable press corps.

What is a typical day like?

I arrive at the office at 8.15am and spend an hour doing errands and working on my in-tray. At the moment, about half my time is spent organising conventions. We work on three conventions at a time - last year's, this year's and the one for next year. The other half of my time is spent being a spokesperson for Abta on TV or radio. At 9.15am, journalists start coming in and there is bound to be an interview on the issue of the day - an earthquake or the latest food scare. I leave the office no later than 5.45pm.

That said, when I'm working on a convention I arrive at the centre at 7.45am to prepare. If there is a live TV show, we rehearse all the speakers for the next day - they are professional people,not necessarily professional speakers.

Occasionally, we have to work throughout the night - someone might turn up with different formatted slides to those we were expecting or they may want something that we hadn't anticipated. There should be no surprises on the day, so everything must be right.

What do you love most about the job?

Unlike most people in PR, I am able to take complete control of everything I do. For instance, if the BBC suddenly phones to say the speakers are useless, I don't have to sit down and write out a response three hours later, but I can respond immediately, live on TV.

The worst part of my job is the fact that you never know what is going to happen next. For instance, when a big piece of news suddenly breaks it is exciting and exhilarating - everyone wants advice. The next day though, everything that did not get done on the day the news broke, still needs to be done and people don't always understand that. Perhaps the worst part of the job is the element of unpredictability.

If you are at a party and someone finds out who you are and what you do, what is the question they are most likely to ask?

"Can you get me a cheap holiday?" or "Have you ever met Judith Chalmers?" I am always surprised about just how much non-travel people know about our organisation. I recently met Patsy Palmer and she said: "You make sure that people get their holiday if their holiday firm goes bust." I was really surprised that she knew of us.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

    £40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

    Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

    £26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

    £17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific