Taking the Guesswork Out of Conference Management: Investing in a PCO

by | Jun 9, 2016 | Blog

important note: we have an updated version of this blog post available: Successful Conference Management For The 21st Century

The tasks involved in conference management can be daunting. Often occurring within a highly competitive landscape, organisations need to focus on numerous metrics to make certain that the conference itself offers a substantial ROI while helping the organisation in question expand its reach within the scientific sector. Meeting these benchmarks is difficult; particularly when in-house planning teams are only provided with limited time and resources. This is arguably the most important reason why a Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) will be employed. How can a Core PCO address numerous financial concerns before and during an event?

Conference Management Tasks:

Sourcing the Venue

One of the most pronounced expenditures involved with any event surrounds the location itself. Unsurprisingly, this is arguably the top concern of any organisation during the initial planning stages. Choosing the wrong location can cost lots of money, and in return, any potential profits may transform themselves into losses. A PCO is well aware of the different properties available and will base their choices around the requirements of the organisation to ensure that an economical and appropriate option can be chosen.

Related blog: 5 Tips For Effective Venue Sourcing For Your Next Conference

Dedicated Bookkeeping Solutions

Managing the economic metrics pertinent to an event can be quite different from the daily in-house operations that a standard bookkeeper addresses. Proper budgeting is essential. A PCO is specially trained within this required field in conference management, and thus, the organisation can remain confident that no discrepancies will occur along the way.

General Negotiations

Preparing for any event will naturally involve a certain amount of negotiations. Some of the most common examples can include:

  • Catering
  • Equipment rental
  • The hiring of temporary on-site staff
  • Accommodations
  • Transport and shuttle services
  • Networking and social events

Related blog: Collaborate and Create: Networking Ideas for Conferences

Once again, association executives may have neither the time nor the experience to tackle such concepts of event and congress management. Should they fail to secure the best deal (while not sacrificing quality), a tight budget may soon be overdrawn. Professional Conference Organisers are likely to be already familiar with the most popular services, and they can then negotiate with these firms directly.

Marketing and Promotions

While some organisations choose to utilise a back-office team for event PR needs, conference management and event marketing can be slightly different from a regular campaign due to its time constraints and the necessity to deal with multiple third-party stakeholders. The Core PCO can take the pressure off of this team; allowing them to address their core competencies. We should not fail to mention here that budgeting such a campaign correctly can have a massive impact on the ultimate ROI of the conference itself.

Related blog: Keeping attendance levels at your event – 6 key steps to successfully market your event

VAT handling in congress management

There are many times when an organisation will have to take into account any ramifications regarding taxation associated with revenue generation. The laws here can be quite muddled, and these will depend upon various factors. One error during this process can lead to costly penalties in the future (and a potentially damaged reputation if such mistakes go public). The PCO is an expert in this field and also often works together with local consultants. Thus, the organisation can rest assured that they are following all applicable rules and regulations.

While these are a handful of the most obvious financial benefits of a PCO, we need to recognise that this expert can offer a host of other amenities not mentioned here. To appreciate the true scope of these services, we encourage you to read our White Paper 1: The Role of the PCO – Professional Conference Organiser in detail.


Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering integrated solutions, especially for non-profit clients. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy of associations. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 33 conferences with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisation and corporations.

If you wish to receive additional information about Congrex Switzerland, please feel free to contact us.

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