Committee Workshop: BILT ANZ 2022

While you might have been scrolling Facebook memories from past BILT events, on the last weekend in May, our BILT ANZ committee gathered at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast to begin planning for our November event.  Our committee has long been used to the idea of remote work, we only gather in person twice for each event – once for the planning workshop and then for the event itself. All the work in between is done remotely, in a very similar way to how many people work today! 

The workshop is therefore a critical and intense time for our team, and while our work collegues might have thought we were enjoying a weekend on the Gold Coast, we were in fact sitting in a meeting room pretty much all day staring at our screens.  Because we love what we do, even when we go out for dinner in the evening we are often still talking shop and trying to come up with ideas for an amazing event.  Usually the gala party theme is one discussed over dinner (and do we have an awesome theme for you this year!!!) 

While there are many many small details like this that go into organising a successful event, abstracts and the program are the main focus of our committee workshop, along with seeing the venue and all the different spaces that will be used for the event. 

First up on the venue – we will have exclusive use of Royal Pines (not the Golf Course but the hotel and events space) and its going to give us a fabulous chance to come together, meet and interact throughout the event in a range of different spaces.  If you do want to play golf, add on some extra time on the Wednesday or the Sunday and there will be discounts available for our delegates.  If you want to bring the family there are a range of pools, water play and a playground (with bouncy pillow) for kids to enjoy.  Accommodation options for families will also be available.  And for once we are having an event in Summer!  It will be a bit strange not to be packing boots and winter clothes for a BILT event! 

Of course its great to have a fantastic venue, but we have to build a program to match!  The process of selecting speakers and sessions is a long one and takes up a large part of our time together.  Firstly prior to arriving on site, an initial blind review of each submission is undertaken.  In theory we don’t know who has submitted each session (can you speakers all stop cheating and putting your names in your abstract text?).  Once we arrive on site, we again go thru the abstracts as a team, and label them as yes, no or maybe.  The number of no at this stage is always fairly small. 

At this point, we are just assessing content – will this make an interesting session and will it attract an audience?  These two questions are not always the same thing, we do sometimes turn down sessions which we think are interesting but very niche.  We don’t want speakers to be disappointed by a low turnout plus we do have a room / session number limit.   

Our next round review looks at who the speakers are – do we know them from previous events and if so do they have a good ranking? If not has anyone seen them present elsewhere / what are their credentials.  We also take into account if they are the right person to be speaking knowledgably on the topic (for example if as an interior designer I submitted a class on structural engineering there would be some questions!). 

Finally we start assembling the ‘yes’ submissions into a program.  At this point, we start to consider if we have enough or too many sessions on specific topics and we might realise we have two sessions that are very similar – so only one might get accepted.  We might realise there are specific areas which are not well covered and so we start reaching out to previous speakers or connections for specific topics.  By the end of the weekend the program is probably around 70% complete and a few weeks after speakers will hear back if they have been successful or not. 

This year, we were impressed by the high quality of abstracts received.  So if your abstract was not accepted, please try again next year!  We are still seeking speakers on topics related to construction or infrastructure – so if you are interested please do get in touch with our speaker managers, Clay Hickling ( or Melanie Tristam ( 

For more information on this upcoming event on the 24-26 November 2022, click here.

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