Producers, Managers
and Convenors

PCOA President, Barry Neame welcomes all to PCOA22

I want to acknowledge the deep history and culture of this Island and would like to acknowledge the − Muwinina (pronounced Moo-we-nin-ah) people, the traditional owners of the Land upon which we gather. I acknowledge and pay respects to all Tasmanian Aboriginal Communities. I am delighted to be welcoming everyone to Hobart for the 14th annual PCOA conference and exhibition – in person.

Our theme – A BREATH OF FRESH AIR: FRESH IDEAS, FRESH THINKING – was inspired by the city of Hobart and its unique surroundings.

We all know Hobart is a world-class destination and PCOA thanks Business Events Tasmania for their support, confidence in PCOA and commitment to this conference. It has history, a picturesque and natural deep-water harbour, rugged mountains, gourmet food and wine experiences, and a strong arts and cultural scene. As does all of Tassie. It is a bit of a cliché, but the city and Tassie has something for everyone.

I said at the outset that I am delighted to be welcoming you all in person, and I meant it – more so than usual when you consider the enormous challenges our sector and others have experienced over the past two years. I want to particularly acknowledge and thank sincerely the PCOA management committee – Paula Leishman and Karen Sainsbury, along with the PCOA councillors – Mary Sparksman, Mike Pickford, Anne Marie Quinn, Renee Bennett, Arna Wahl Davies and our fantastic team, who keep PCOA operating Maxine Tod and Cindy Axisa. What a team that has built the PCOA brand over the last 14 Years.

Of course, though we could not meet face-to-face last year because of health restrictions, PCOA was still very active. We never lost sight of our members’ professional and personal challenges and needs. It is worthy of noting that to support you, between March 2020 and June 2021 the association facilitated nine Zoom meetings, bringing together management committee member and Tassie councillor Paula Leishman, myself and business owners from around the country to talk about the challenges we were all facing.

I thought it was a great exercise to reinforce for us all that we were all in this together, facing and managing similar issues. We also conducted a number of zoom meetings for our hotel business partners, to make sure we maintained connection. What was really apparent to me through these sessions was the trust, faith and respect shown for the association by its members and our shared values and the strength of the PCOA BRAND

During 2021 and 2022 the association conducted 18 educational webinars for members and business partners all focused on our key objectives to increase the standard of professionalism of members and promote a better understanding of the roles, functions and contributions of PCO’s, event managers and practitioners in the conference and events sector. Members can access these resources – and 95 other webinair presentations – via our archive.

While on the subject of resources, PCOA is proud to announce and launch today “Events Law” a practical guide for practitioners in Meeting Events and conference space.
In collaboration with Matt Crouch one of Australia’s most informed “Event Space” Lawyers. This informative book is focused on the legal issues that we all have to consider and navigate when managing projects.

At the start of this year we also partnered with the Connected Event Group to produce 11 industry-specific podcasts. They were very popular and well received – thanks in no small part to Libbie Rae whose interviewing style encouraged the “talent” to share their knowledge and humour with us all.

PCOA was honoured to be invited to become a strategic member of The International Association of Professional Congress Organisers. This has broadened our connection to the international PCO community. In addition, we lobbied Government, as a member of BECA- Business Events Council of Australia during this recent challenging period. We lobbied hard at a federal level and at a state level, both politicians and bureaucrats. This resulted in the national Business Events Grants Program and support for businesses and employees from the Federal Government. State and Territory Governments also supported businesses in our sector.

Importantly, the association was able to provide our sector with a strong voice at the highest levels of government. We have a compelling story to tell – while I am preaching to the converted, every year 43.7 million people attend a business event. And they inject more than $17 billion in direct value to the Australian economy. These numbers are significant contributions to our economy by any measure.

So, while we do have a good story to tell, we have to make sure the public and politicians are aware and informed. Pleasingly, I can report that PCOA has done and continues to do just that. Membership of the association has grown to more than 340 members as a direct result of the association continuing to engage and promote regularly, no more so than in recent years. Our business partners are also at record levels. I attribute this growth to the efforts the association translating into its strong brand, and what it has made in offering members – the opportunity to meet up via Zoom, engage on a special Facebook page for “in house” professionals and get together in a closed group at annual In-house event managers or owner / director SIG groups.

For our part, the association continues to focus on increasing the standard of professionalism of our membership. For example, as you know the PCOA certification program offers members the opportunity to work toward a set of standards that are recognised as the standard level of service and business practices in the events industry, recognised by our clients.

In closing, thank you all for your ongoing support and clear passion for our industry. I very much look forward to learning with you.

I would also like to AGAIN sincerely thank BET, Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand, all the conference sponsors and exhibitors that have played a major role in what promises to be another highly successful, productive and memorable conference.

I want to especially acknowledge and thank our business partners that continue to provide us with their support each year, which in turn supports our members.
Enjoy the networking opportunities that will create the opportunity for new connections.
And take the time to stop, breathe and reconnect with your industry in the fresh air and natural surroundings of Tasmania
Thank you.