Inadequate information, reticence to share project details and fundamental differences between commercial needs, were all highlighted as barriers to the successful organisation of association events in the UK during a panel-led debate organised by The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre recently.
The event, which was held under Chatham House Rules, offered an opportunity for association clients, PCOs and suppliers to air their views on the supply chain process and challenges.
Some solutions were offered by participants in the debate, including:
- The need for associations to understand the financial realities faced by PCOs, venues and accommodation suppliers including cashflow, fixed versus variable costs, availability, peak dates and the impact of attrition and cancellations.
- The importance of sharing information such as historic event data, opportunities for shared revenue, past failures and marketing opportunities. As one venue participant pointed out: “We are willing to negotiate far more than people realise around certain areas, but can only do so if we are provided with hard facts”.
Jennifer Jenkins, ABPCO’s Chairman, said: “A full White Paper will be published looking at the importance of relationships across the whole conference management chain. However, it should be noted that the final comment of the day remains the most important: “We cannot think in terms of clients and suppliers but must instead focus on working relationships and partnership”.
The panel included QEIICC Commercial Director, Sue Etherington; Hilton Hotels Account Director, Associations, Michael Judd; Visit Belfast Director of Business Tourism, Rachael McGuickin; TFI Meeting Point Development Director, Barbara Blow, and UCAS Head of Events, Phil Ross.
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