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The balance between conference and exhibition needs careful thought say ABPCO members

ABPCO members taking part in a recent roundtable, jointly sponsored by Manchester Central and IHG, recognised the need for conferences to be focused on knowledge exchange and learning whilst arguing that the accompanying exhibition revenues are often vital to an event’s success.

As Therese Dolan, joint chair of ABPCO comments: “It is a battle between content and consumerism that has to start with communication and a thorough understanding of the audience. The key issue is to ensure value for all. Content is usually the driver for delegate attendance, but exhibitors need to see footfall and a return on their investment. Association conferences are often accompanied by an exhibition because it adds value to the attendees, whilst bringing in revenues that benefit the association as a whole and sometimes the delegates themselves through reduced conference fees.”

ABPCO’s roundtable events offer a forum for members to gather and share complex ideas and challenges in a safe and private environment. The event took place at the Crowne Plaza London - The City. It was attended by a variety of in-house PCOs seeking to make the most of their conferences and exhibitions. Key outcomes included:

• The need for exhibitions and their revenues to be seen as a key part of an association’s business plan and revenue.

• Greater facilitation of introductions between attendees and exhibitors by organisers.

• Language that reflects the importance of exhibitors – partners or sponsors are perceived to have more value.

• The need for delegates to understand the importance of an exhibition.

• The importance of relevance – both in terms of the knowledge shared in the conference and the choice of exhibitors.

• The challenges that healthcare compliance can place on an exhibition.

 

Shaun Hinds, CEO at Manchester Central, chaired the discussion and added: “The event was a real success, generating lots of interesting discussion. As a venue that is privileged to host many of the UK’s leading association conferences, it provided us with invaluable insights on how we can assist organisers to grow and deliver successful congresses year on year.”

Therese concludes “Ultimately it is up to the organisers of a conference to facilitate the success of both conference and exhibition. This roundtable event, like so many others, covered a huge amount of content in a short space of time and offered valuable learning for all in attendance. It was clear though that the most important part of the whole process was the need for communities to gather and communicate. Which, truth be told, is the key element to every successful event.”

ABPCO is the UK’s leading organisation for professional conference and event organisers, industry associates and those studying for, or seeking a career in the conference and meetings industry. For more information about ABPCO visit www.abpco.org