Home' micenet eMag : micenet AUSTRALIA October November 2014 Contents E
xperienced PCOs, WA-based Alison Petrie and Paula
Leishman in Tasmania, know a thing or two about
meetings, having planned countless events for many years.
And both agree that the standard format for a three-day
meeting continues in 2014.
“Sadly, there is a formula that the smaller conferences follow,
and as much as we try to advocate doing it differently most clients
prefer not to rock the boat,” Ms Petrie (pictured right)explains.
She says the standard conference template is:
Day 1: bump-in, registration, welcome reception
Day 2: plenary and concurrent sessions
Day 3: plenary and concurrent sessions plus conference dinner
Day 4: plenary and concurrent sessions, finish, bump-out
“However, there is a major medical conference that we do that
does like to make its meeting far more interesting and engaging
with a full program that includes: breakfast sessions, specific
social events for different stakeholders, a party on the Friday night
for all delegates, a gala dinner on the final night of the conference,
always a Saturday [and] again for all delegates,” Ms Petrie says.
“It works and is a real pleasure for us to be involved with. It
challenges the event team and keeps them extremely busy and
intent on being original and innovative.”
Paula Leishman (top left) agrees that the standard
conference format remains a constant for many groups, and
she does see benefits to it.
“The reason for the welcome reception on the first night [is
that it’s a] good opportunity for people to renew acquaintances,”
“A free evening [is] generally on the middle night (or
alternatively you might have the gala dinner on this second night)
and then the third night everyone just heads home – which is
often the case, and causes all sorts of issues when the dinner is
included in the conference fee. It means you are paying for food
that is not consumed, unless it’s managed carefully.”
“In terms of mixing it up, I’m not sure what else you could do.
Maybe the first night could be something more than a welcome
[as] people are fresh and eager to be involved. The welcome by
the pool is done to death these days. I think we’ve got to mix it up.
“Interaction is the key - something to get people talking and
together. We’ve done night markets, which are always popular,
particularly for those who don’t know anyone. We had a
wonderful conference recently where we joined the group
together as a choir. That was amazing – really powerful stuff,
and memorable and experiential for the delegates.”
Ms Petrie says she recently returned from delivering a medical
conference in Bali that was run quite differently to the norm, and
with great success.
“That was down to a scientific program convener who shared
our point of view. For example, on day one we started with
registration and lunch then went into session. Concurrent
workshops were hands on with live demos and rotating work
While the standard three-day conference format appears here
to stay there is a growing desire to create more interaction,
according to a number of leading PCOs.
PCO Conference looks at the future
As reported by the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation in its Global Report on the Meetings Industry, the
sector has come of age and has firmly placed itself at the centre of tourism as one of the key drivers of the sector’s
development, and an important generator of income, employment and investment. According to the PCO Association while
“bricks and mortar capacity” is growing rapidly, the nature of meeting and event design, delivery, marketing and management
is in a state of transition. To that end, the conference will examine the relationships and interdependence between venues,
transport, delegates, convenors, managers, technologies, governments and clients. The conference will ask how are the
expectations of each group changing? “How will we build the next generation of successful meetings and events?” The
conference runs from November 30 to December 2. Visit http://conference.pco.asn.au/ to learn more.
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