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A professional conference organiser or PCO is a company which specialises in the management of conferences, seminars and business events for academic and professional associations. They will act as a consultant to the organising committee enacting its decisions and assisting to fulfill their objectives, whilst utilising the experience and knowledge a PCO has gained over many years in organising events.

Unlike a travel agent, venue event manager or public relations company, that offer partial event management services a Professional Conference Organiser will offer a complete event management service as it is their primary business.

So, how is a PCO really going to help my business? Well let’s get into it…

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Finding a Core PCO

When you start to plan your event, and decide to engage a PCO, often they will work with you over a 12–18-month period in the lead up to your conference. Throughout this time, they will become an asset to your organisation as they gain insight into your industry and greater knowledge of your event over time.

Finding a core PCO for this role is important to the ongoing success of your event program so you need to find the right person for the job. Look for a PCO that operates nationally and will be able to move with you as your event changes location across its lifespan. You will also want to find a PCO that offers a full-scale service when it comes to event management. Think of it as a long-term solution to the management of your event program. By doing this, not only are you going to save your organisation time and money on an annual tender process, but you are also growing a partnership with a PCO.

Your core PCO will be an asset to your organisation as their role will be managing the relationship between key stakeholders and supporters ensuring the success of a long-term event strategy.

Key take-homes:

Consider finding the right PCO a long-term strategy for your business. Look for an organiser that offers an end-to-end management service nationally and is interested in the long-term strategic outcomes of your organisation. This will save you time, money and add value to your events overtime.

PCO Services

A PCO will provide a full service management for conferences including conference design, abstract management, program development, registration, venue selection, accommodation, speaker sourcing, marketing, audiovisual, logistics, administration support, financial management, social functions leisure tours, sponsorship and trade exhibition services.

By engaging a PCO, you outsource the role of Project Manager to an team of knowledgeable experts that will act as a link between suppliers, provide sound advice to the organising committee and manage technical elements to ensure the success of your conference or business event.

Should I use a PCO to help with my event?

A professional conference organiser will be able to assist you in all aspects of your conference such as event planning, speaker management, logistics and even marketing! In order to get an accurate proposal from a PCO, create a list of tasks that you would like assistance in managing. It’s also important to list the tasks of event planning that you would like to manage in-house as this may reduce some of the costs. A good PCO will be able to work with you and provide support to your organisation for the elements of conference and event planning that you may be under resourced in. We work with associations, corporate bodies and organisations from varying industries and each organisation is unique so we understand planning your event from start to finish. If you’ve never engaged a PCO before, let them know when you start making enquiries so they can explain the process from the start.

Are you considering a digital or hybrid event? If so, check out our latest article on a Digital Conference Organiser, DCO vs PCO – what is the difference?