As ABPCO (the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers) enters its 25th anniversary this year, its Chairman Michael Foreman reflects on how life within the meetings industry has changed over the last quarter of a century:
- 1987 – ABPCO is incorporated, the Apple Mac computer is launched, badge production and data capture (via embossed plastic cards) for the trade show industry are invented
- 1989 – Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web
- 1990 – Meeting Industry Association (MIA) is founded
- 1991 – NIA opens its doors
- 1994 – Two Stanford students create “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” which was soon renamed Yahoo
- 1995 – Holiday Inn provide the first hotel website with the option of booking rooms online
- 2000 – The first virtual trade show, ExpoExchange, is held
- 2000 – Excel opens
- Websites become an integral element of event marketing and communications
- 2002 – UK venues host an estimated 1.5 million conferences and meetings
- 2004 – Google went public
- 2004 – facebook was founded
- 2005 – Conferences and meetings in the UK worth an estimated 11.7 billion per year
- E-mail marketing is a key element of event communications
- 2007 – twitter was founded
- PCOs talk about going green and how to recycle at events
- Hotels interpret force majeure clauses (the ability for a group to cancel without penalty if a disaster strikes)
- 2008 – MPI publishes a Corporate Social Responsibility Survey results, part of the Green initiative
- 2010 – The Barbican joins as ABPCO’s first corporate member
- Hybrid conferences become more pronounced with companies
- 2011 – ABPCO’s Conference Cloud calling for free wi-fi for delegates launches
Today the association is thriving, with PCO’s and in house event planners organising an estimated 3500 conferences and events a year. ABPCO are still the only association to have individual membership of conference and event organisers, which welcomes both the independent and the in-house PCO/event organiser.
We have come a long way since the beginning and are proud of how the organisation has grown and the achievements that have been made. We could not have come this far however, without our wonderful members and the commitment and support from them.
We have always been positioned as the leading UK body representing the interests of Professional Conference Organisers and our aim has been to increase the profile and recognition of professional standards in our industry. Over the last twenty five years we have made significant progress and have fostered professionalism across the meetings industry.
To mark the start of ABPCO’s Silver Anniversary year, ABPCO’s annual conference will be held at The Barbican from 25-27 January with a gala dinner to be held at St Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday 26 January.
Check out CN’s March edition for a gallery of the event.