There has continued to be a trend for companies to outsource the planning and delivery of their conferences in 2018.
However, the noticeable growth has been in the outsourcing of selected event services rather than complete end-to-end management of conferences.
As a professional conference organiser (PCO) for Corporate Challenge Events, I have been at the epicentre of enquiries this year for conference planning and delivery.
Whilst a majority of these enquiries have been for end-to-end management, it has been consistent with previous years.
End-to-end management is simply looking after the entire planning and delivery of the conference from the start when the initial planning takes place to the end once the conference has been delivered and reports finalised.
What I have noticed this year has been a surge in requests for selected event services such as pre-event planning, online registration, travel management and creative team building activities.
More and more companies are managing their conferences internally however still seek the support of PCOs for their expertise in a few key areas.
This can be because their conference is being held in another city and the client needs local support, the client hasn’t done it before or the client doesn’t have the required contacts in the event’s industry.
Then it becomes a necessity to outsource at least some services to a PCO which will alleviate time, mis-spent budget and stress.
Let’s have a look at some of our most requested event services this year …
1. Pre-event management
This can include everything from venue finding, liaising with suppliers, coordinating contracts and setting up systems for the conference to run smoothly.
The client then has the staff and support to deliver the conference onsite without the need for our team.
We have found this service has grown for companies who are holding conferences in another city from their head office.
2. Online registration
Online registration is a simple, cost effective and stress-free solution for clients wanting to organise conferences.
We offer affordable and easy-to-administer online event registration systems with secure credit card payment.
These registration systems can be customised for each conference including logo and branding.
Given the technical nature of registration systems and complexity in setting one up from scratch, companies understand the value in outsourcing for a customised solution.
3. Travel and accommodation
Offering a complete travel service, our team researches, books and manages flights, accommodation and transfers for presenters and delegates from single to group bookings.
As part of the service, we provide 24-hour emergency assistance, produce personalised and branded itineraries and offer access to competitive industry rates.
Managing this part of the conference can be time-consuming and stressful but having the right contacts and processes in place makes it a lot easier and cost effective.
What we know and understand is that every conference is different and the requirements of every client are different.
That is why we have evolved to offer a flexible service for clients where we are able to tailor our services for any conference.
This year we have also seen an increase in companies coming to us with shorter timeframes.
Being able to offer select event services has helped with this. With any conference, there is a lot to pull together so being able to outsource a few areas makes it a lot easier for the event organiser.
Looking to the future, I can see our ‘technology integration’ service in greater demand.
This includes setting up and providing an app for the conference, live streaming the conference to remote delegates, and obtaining instantaneous feedback from delegates via live polling.
Like online registration systems, we have access to the technology to provide customised versions of these for each conference.
Let’s see if I am writing about that service booming in 12 months’ time!
Kathryn Laslett, Conference & Events, Corporate Challenge Events