As your conference manager, you can imagine that my team and I saw the conference from a different perspective. This is what we experienced – and what we would recommend as the ultimate conference recipe.
Preparing a conference takes some work, but part of that work is different from what one would expect. For example, we rushed with beer barrels so it would have the perfect temperature when you arrived, or we tried to convince the bus driver to drive through tiny streets so you would not catch too many raindrops – and since our conference, all taxi companies in Mechelen know Liselore from Herita, who arranged a taxi or bus for every post-conference participant in ultra-fast time on the national strike day to make sure all would catch their flight or train on time.
However, nobody would be keen to hear fancy stories about stressful moments (and actually there weren’t too many). So instead we thought of what could be a good recipe for a successful IE Conference: what made us smile, when did we frown and why, as a team, we enjoyed this event. Let’s try…

  • 1 conference venue with an aircon system that listens to the feelings of the participants,    where water bottles are refilled by themselves, where tv screens and projectors are doing what you say just after you have talked to them,…
  • A team of 15 friendly, dedicated hosts
  • 1 red pepper 
  • Sugar 
  • A bunch of positive and open minded international participants 
  • Belgian chocolates
  • Belgian beer
  • Hotel nearby and a nice bed
  • Optional: a 15m long rope, a tennis ball, markers, pens, papers, a printer that is willing to work overtime


  1. Search for a suitable conference place, i.e. something that looks like a transparent sugar pot
  2. Fill this pot with a team of 15 friendly, dedicated hosts – make sure they have a hotel nearby and a nice bed; immerse them all first in a red sauce based on Belgian chocolates so they won’t stop smiling whatever happens and make each of them spread their smile over the entire pot so they are recognisable throughout the whole menu.
  3. Let the bunch of international participants flow gradually into the pot between the smiling hosts, making sure they melt together: let it rest for a few minutes, so they get acquainted with each other, provide equipment when they ask for it (pens, paper, markers, flipcharts, tennis balls, a 15m long rope…) – always with a smile and make sure your material provider (printer) and hosts are willing to work overtime. Dedication to each other and reaching for the same goal is everything!
  4. When the merging of the two ingredient groups seems to be complete, you taste. If some sides of the pot (some groups) are sour, add a teaspoon of sugar or a cup of Belgian beer – this will keep them satisfied. If some are not participating/melting together, add some red pepper or a good provocative study visit or key note speech to give it some character. 
  5. Finally, put the pot in the oven at a temperature of 175 degrees for 5760 minutes (4 days) and you’ll discover that the ingredients together create a whole new flavour of inspiration, thoughts, new ideas and emerging cooperations. You’ll have a perfect concoction of warm and spicy, fresh and sour, sweat and salty, which supports the atmosphere and has a positive effect on everyone’s temper  positive feedback, happy faces and heart-warming feelings.

Bon appetit!
Enjoy next years’ conference in Scotland!

Laila De Bruyne studied history and cultural management, worked at the University of Antwerp as an education assistant and currently works at Herita, Flemish Heritage Association as an event and sponsoring manager. You can get in touch with her at

To cite this article:
De Bruyne, L. (2016) ‘IE Conference 2016: Behind the scene’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2016, 5

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