Choosing your conference dates and location

 | Interpretation best practices

Organizing teams of interpreters for your event cannot be improvised or left to the last minute. Ensuring the best conference interpretation solution for your event requires careful advance planning, starting with choosing your conference dates and location.

To find local interpreters and optimize your budget, avoid certain dates

Major global events such as the G20 or climate summits require large numbers of interpreters. The ILO (International Labor Conference), for example, which takes place in Geneva, Switzerland during the first three weeks of June, uses some 300 interpreters, including many locals. Arabic, Russian and Chinese interpreters are rarely available at this time of year.

Lining up interpreters while the Strasbourg European Parliament sessions are taking place is just about impossible. Some 700 interpreters are tied up for these sessions, which take place every month for three to four days, all year long. The European Parliament uses up to 23 languages in its debates, which leaves hardly any Polish, Latvian or Maltese interpreters to handle any other private or public sector events. The Olympics is another example. Almost a hundred professional interpreters are called upon to cover events ranging from finalists’ press conferences to International Olympic Committee sessions.

If you are organizing a large conference make sure it does not coincide with any of these events. There is no comprehensive list of large international conferences and assemblies, so just ask us. As professional conference interpreters, we keep track of local conferences, major sports events, and high level political meetings.

Plan ahead for best selection of interpreters

If you have no flexibility with conference dates, recruit well in advance.

The more advanced notice you give yourself, the wider the selection of available interpreters you will have. As Calliope member Danielle Gree points out in her post about the International Union of Architects (UIA) congress in Istanbul, every country has some languages that are routinely hard to find. If you’re in France and need Japanese or Korean interpreters, for example, there aren’t many, and they tend to be booked well in advance. Freelance interpreters are sometimes recruited up to 14 months in advance for large events. If you wait till the last minute, there may be no available interpreters experienced in the specialty or language combination you require. Therefore, give yourself plenty of time.

Geographical proximity to professional interpreters

Location is another important consideration when it comes to securing conference interpreters. Cities like Paris, Brussels and Geneva are home to hundreds of local professional interpreters. In Tanzania or New Caledonia, you may find very few, so you will have to “import” them. You will need a travel and accommodation budget for interpreters, which can be extremely costly if organized at the last minute.

We always start by recruiting local interpreters, provided they have the right combination of language and expertise. Then, if needed, we open up our search to neighboring markets, which keeps the travel and accommodation costs to a minimum.

We are happy to organize and manage interpretation services for your event. If you just need help selecting the best dates and location for your conference, drop us a line and we’ll get in touch.

This article is part of our blog series entitled 7 steps to getting the best conference interpretation solution for your event.

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