A Core PCO (Professional Conference Organiser) runs the same services for an association year in year out, regardless of location of the meeting. A local PCO will deliver services probably for just 1 year only when a particular congress is taking place in its locality. You may find in some instances this local role is fulfilled by a national or regional association with the appropriate skills. Congress projects can involve either one or the other or in some cases both, where each takes on different and clearly defined responsibilities.
Most PCOs should be adept at both roles but you will find that most specialise in either one or the other. Below you will find a list of services typically involved in running a congress together with an analysis of which partner may be better suited.
In the events industry good project management underpins the delivery of all services however from the perspective of the overall lead of a congress project a core PCO is best placed to perform this duty. Each and every association is structurally different and it can take time for a new supplier, particularly one who is leading a complex event, to grasp its intricacies and to build trust with a client. A local PCO will generally need to do this in the absence of a core PCO and because this takes an added investment of time it can end up being less effective.
For most global meetings sponsorship requires a two-pronged approach because many opportunities for larger sponsors are funded from a combination of local and global funding. This requires sponsorship support both from the global and local markets. However, in most situations you will also need someone in the local market where your event is taking place in order to build relationships with local companies and national distributors. The resource could be the based in the country or even the continent where the event is taking place and will assist with cultural or language barriers as well as sourcing appropriate leads.
In a similar way to sponsorship, marketing strategy should be run globally but will need support from local experts. This is for a number of reasons, not least language.
There are many differences between running global campaigns and regional ones, including the distribution channels available and differing responses to the same messages across cultures. For example, in China the most popular social media platform is called WeChat, but it’s not used in the rest of the world. It’s having local knowledge in your target geographical areas that becomes important in this instance.
Content can and should be run globally. In terms of process and structure very little tends to change from year to year, and in fact developing standards of abstract submission process makes it more appealing for delegates to submit. There is also less of a language barrier as most international meetings tend to be run using only English as a language.
Input from a local committee will probably be required but this doesn’t necessarily need input from a local PCO.
Generally speaking this can be run effectively by either your core or local PCO no matter where your event is being held in the world.
Registration and housing (accommodation) can also run well by a core PCO, although for global meetings you may want to consider extended operating hours to take into account differing time zones.
However, you should take into account the taxation laws of the destination that the congress is taking place in. Remember that if you are charging for attendance at an event the “value” is delivered in the destination of the event and therefore will be subject to local VAT rules. In some cases this may involve opening a local company or at least registering for a tax number in the country that the event is taking place, all of which a local PCO should be able to advise you on effectively.
Whilst the requirements might be coordinated globally fulfillment of production is generally best managed locally. The best production companies, like DMCs, are often locally based and may not speak English as a first language if at all. Furthermore trying to find the best value suppliers can be tricky without local expertise.