Impact Publications : MICEBTN_66
MICEBTN - MARCH-MAY 2017 • Page 7 THE PROFESSIONAL Conference Organisers (PCO) Association has confirmed a raft of 17 webinars for 2017. The online training format has proved very popular with the indus- try since launching in 2015. The first two webinars attracted 40 participants, slightly down on the numbers attained when the program was first launched. “Seventeen the same number that was delivered in 2016 and it seems that total provides the engagement appropriate for the target market as many people are busy with pro- jects,” said Barry Neame, PCOA president. “We have lined up some very interesting speak- ers and topics based on member feedback.” This year the PCO Association has decided to remain in Queens- land, selecting the Gold Coast for its annual conference and exhibition in November. Planning already is well advanced. “The development of the pro- gram has taken into account feedback and evaluation from those who attended the 2016 conference - around subject areas and the type of speaker,” said Neame. “The overall feedback from the 2016 conference was overwhelm- ingly positive on all fronts – pro- fessional development, education, networking, the food experience at the Brisbane Convention Centre and Howards Wharf social network- ing function. “As with every conference there are new and innovative ways of engaging with delegates – and we propose to consider options while shaping the 2017 program and dele- gate experience. “There will be a slight increase in rates for registration and exhibitors – in line with CPI and other eco- nomic factors. “The Malaysian PCO Association members attended the 2016 conference and the feedback was very positive. They will look to do the same in 2017 and the PCO Associ- ation will encourage their participation. PCOA is also en- couraging the Thai- land PCO group to engage more with us and participate in the 2017 conference.” Looking ahead Neame says ear- ly indications are for a generally-stronger year for meetings and conferences in 2017, with China producing some strong incentive group numbers. “The domestic market seems to be strong, with plenty of activity in the corporate and association market – however the price point is still a strong factor in the decision making for venues and the overall spend. “PCO members do not seem to have had any great increase in activity from the increase in flights between Australia and China, apart from the incentive sector where there has been an increase in activity in the incentive market, with a few large groups coming to Australia from China,” explained Neame. The opening of the state-of-the- art ICC Sydney has been a catalyst for strong growth for meetings and events for NSW. “With the opening of the ICC in Sydney has attracted bookings, and the east coast generally seems to be doing well with Brisbane and Mel- bourne also strong, while Adelaide MICE is building. “There seems to be a focus on regional locations for conferences as a more cost-effective option along with a new experience for delegates,” said Neame. Business in the mining states of Queensland and Western Austral- ia while affected by the downturn in mining operations looks to be bouncing back. “Western Australia is now some- what more cost-effective, particu- larly with accommodation rates, now that the construction phase of mining has come off its high levels. “This will make WA more attractive for conferences as the cycle picks up. “Queensland remains strong with Cairns doing well along with Bris- bane,” said Neame. Neame said the decision to move the PCOA headquarters to Canberra had paid dividends and has allowed PCOA to become closer to the politicians, senior policy bureaucrats and the political debate to ensure that business events are recognised for their contribution to the econo- my and government tax income. It has also facilitated a closer working relationship with the Aus- tralian Association of Convention Bureaux – which also relocated to Canberra last year in order to be closer to the political debates. PCOA membership continues to grow overall – but as with all Asso- ciations there is a ‘churn’ factor of members who have retired or left the industry. However, PCOA is still achieving growth in overall mem- bership from all sectors of the PCO community,” added Neame. PCO schedules 17 webinars, confirms Qld for conference, seeks more Asian delegates Barry Neame, PCOA president.