ICCA Workshop Highlights Discord – PCOs Face Competition

An International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Hybrid Workshop on the Future for Association Outsourcing held during ICCA’s annual research, sales and marketing program in Amsterdam found that associations and suppliers were not always in alignment when thinking about this topic, but that it was a critical, complex issue that all meetings industry suppliers need to understand better. Key findings from the session included: Suppliers primarily see outsourcing as a way for association clients to save money; associations are more motivated by the wish to raise quality standards, or to make effective use of more advanced technology; a majority of associations surveyed had recently brought some outsourced services back in house, essentially to take closer control of areas that are seen as “mission critical”; both suppliers and associations agreed that there will be significantly more outsourcing over the coming five years, and that competition between companies offering outsourcing will increase. Outsourcing is going to become more important.

A poll during the workshop showed meetings logistics are not the only functions being outsourced: Online marketing, communication and PR, IT and financial services, and full association management, are being taken up and offered. PCOs face competition from association management companies, IT companies, communication/marketing agencies, and even other associations which are exploiting their in-house expertise by offering this to sister organisations.

Martin Sirk, ceo ICCA commented: “What is clear is that this is a highly complex issue, with some associations bringing services back in-house, some looking to outsource more, and with more and different forms of competition. Associations that used to be monopoly providers of knowledge in their respective fields are now facing a tremendously competitive marketplace, so are looking for any business model that will help to make them become more efficient and not only within their meetings function. “This has massive implications for how suppliers will interact with association clients in future, in that they may have to deal primarily with intermediaries who are controlling more and more of the decision-making. At the same time, associations are telling us that the critical issue is their ongoing relationship with their members: any outsourcer needs to respect this fact if they want to be successful.” Source Chris Hurd, MiceBTN