Professional conference organiser
A professional conference organiser, professional congress organiser (PCO) or conference company is a company which specialises in the organisation and management of congresses, conferences, seminars and similar events.
PCOs can typically work as consultants for academic and professional associations. They usually provide full service management for conferences including conference design, abstract management software, program development, registration, site and venue selection and booking, audiovisuals, IT support, logistics, leisure management, marketing, printing and web services, sourcing speakers, funding, sponsorship and exhibitor sales, financial management and budget control.
Other companies offer related services including travel agents and public relations companies. They tend to focus on limited areas such as destination management.
Size of market sector
Recent surveys of UK conference venues have found that a third of conference bookings were made by PCOs or venue-finding agencies. In 2006 UK-based conferences generated £7.6 billion in direct sales giving PCOs a central role in some £2.5 billion of revenue generation. The UK is ranked second behind the US for global market share of conferences. Thus, although there is no one source of global statistics for the conference market it appears that PCOs play a central role in several billion dollars' worth of revenue generation worldwide.
- Conferences and Conventions: A Global Industry By Tony Rogers
- Information drawn from the British Conference Venues Survey 2005 Archived July 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Survey of Conferences in Scotland in 2006 Archived April 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Paid report in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management (first part free) Archived December 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- IAPCO – the International Association of PCOs
- ICCA - International Congress and Convention Association
- Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO)
- Meeting Professionals International (white papers about the meetings industry)
- – Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)