How To Choose the right PCO
These guidelines have been produced by the Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) Approved Members to assist you with the appointment of a Professional Conference Organiser (PCO).
What is a PCO?
A Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) is a company or person who specialises in the management of conferences. The company or person will act as a consultant to the organising committee, enacting its decisions whilst utilising the experience and knowledge they have gained over many years in organising conferences and events.
Many other companies offer PCO type services including travel agents, public relations companies, destination management companies etc. Frequently the service offered by such companies is partial, e.g. destination management, print mangement etc. These differ from the services that a PCO can deliver in that their core business is not professional conference organisation.
There are many different ranges of services that a PCO can offer (for list of services, see Appendix A.)
Do you need a PCO?
If there are areas of conference management for which you cannot provide the knowledge, resources, the time or the technical facilities, then a PCO will handle these for you. A PCO will also act as a link between different committees and suppliers. The committee or association will normally retain control of the event and set the policy with the PCO acting as Project Manager and ensuring that the administration runs smoothly. In addition, they will provide advice on all aspects of conference management and work with you in partnership to ensure the success of your conference.
WHEN DO YOU NEED A PCO?
A PCO can be brought in at different stages during the planning process. However, it is recommended that a PCO be appointed as early as possible, as their experience and expertise can ensure you avoid the many pitfalls and unnecessary expenditure, which are frequently encountered during the early stages of conference planning.
In the earliest stages a PCO can offer advice, help, knowledge and administrative support in both venue research and feasibility, as well as in establishing a preliminary budget, short-listing suppliers, and developing a time line for the planning and organisation of your conference. They can also offer help in the preparation and presentation of bids to win a conference for a particular destination; this may be in partnership with the local convention bureau if appropriate.