[pullquote]Good PCOs take responsibility for the outcome of their clients’ meetings, whilst keeping their businesses healthy, and staff members well looked after.[/pullquote]For as long as I can remember, there have been discussions on what the future would look like for PCOs, and even if there would be a future at all for these meeting professionals. During IAPCO assemblies the members regularly engage in sessions on market- and self-analysis, in order to understand the complex dynamics within our industry-at-large, and ultimately the requirements of our clients. And it is here where we find the future.

Our world is changing; societies are changing; people are changing. I suppose this is inherent to life itself. However, I believe most people would agree that the speed and variety of changes in our current existence have increased so much, that it raises concerns about the future in general. The extraordinary development of public Internet use, and technology in general, has defined many of the changes in our environment. Such dynamics in life beg for reflection, as well as for interaction with other professionals.

When a person truly understands the necessity for reflection, the natural follow-up is found in seeking education. Within our industry nowadays there are plenty educational offerings at different levels. And fortunately some of these offerings include the contributions of individuals who are active in different business environments. And when we add to this the effort to embrace ideas and suggestions from people of different generations, we can learn that just listening carefully to other peoples’ experiences provides enough energy and courage to face to unexpected challenges of tomorrow.

The exchange of information, practices and thoughts with professionals from different business environments drives the development of new services. PCOs deliver services that are often intangible and therefore difficult to classify, administer or put a value on. It is obvious that the commoditization of certain logistical elements within a PCO service package has forced the PCOs towards the development of new sales arguments. And before that, or so I would like to presume, to the actual professional education and development concerning new services required by clients. Now the task of the PCOs is to find better ways to market their position in the overall value description of the clients’ projects.

Just like our clients’ clients, PCOs look for platforms offering a learning environment and an opportunity to exchange thoughts and concerns with others. For almost fifty years now IAPCO has provided such a platform to PCOs who show a commitment to raising quality standards in the international meetings industry. When all these professionals gather and engage in serious discussions and joyful interactions, little miracles happen and great optimism comes to the surface.

With so many different backgrounds, interests and experiences, the IAPCO members seek to provoke their minds, in order to improve their understanding and opportunities to face tomorrow’s dynamics and challenges. And for as long as PCOs are determined to improve their services, and committed to assisting their clients in achieving their goals, the future for them looks bright and prosperous.


There is no such thing as the perfect lawyer, builder or PCO. Good PCOs take responsibility for the outcome of their clients’ meetings, whilst keeping their businesses healthy, and staff members well looked after. Good PCOs invest in appropriate education for all of the staff members, and do business in an honest and sustainable way. Good PCOs embrace every opportunity to improve their services, and as such engage in meaningful conversations with clients, participants, colleagues and competitors.
Good PCOs become an IAPCO member.

About the Author

Michel started his professional career in the Meetings and Exhibition Industry with a part-time involvement in the European Society of Cardiology in 1989. Following his graduation from University, Michel joined Congrex in 1997 where he was involved in the organisation of many international congresses. Changing perspective, he decided to focus on a Post-Graduate in Journalism in 2003. Returning to the industry later that year, new appointments took him from Istanbul to Rome, and in 2010 he returned to Istanbul where is now Director Business Development for Figur International and the joint venture LFC.

Michel is President of IAPCO and a member of the IAPCO Training Academy since 2006.


An IAPCO PCO is a Professional Congress Organiser or Meeting Planner who administers and brings to fruition the organisation of a congress, meeting, event or convention in a professional manner. Such a professional manner will include timeliness, efficiency, financial responsibility and good management.

An IAPCO PCO has achieved a professional standard as judged by their peers and their clients. Each member has had to undergo rigorous entry criteria:


— Proof of organisation of 10 international meetings, of which 5 must be of over 400 participants

— Confidential references received from past clients

— Site inspection of a selected international congress

— Successful interviews by peer review of international client, local organising committee, delegates and exhibitors of a selected international congress

— Inspection of offices and audit of procedures

— Once accepted into the Association, an IAPCO PCO has to maintain their membership by participating in an annual quality assessment including:

— Statutory returns to prove on-going trading and notification of management changes

— Submission of Congress Check Lists to ensure continuous activity in the international meetings market

— Quality Self Assessment to position oneself against one’s competition and peers and to provide a benchmark for improvement

— Attendance at the annual Quality Seminar at least once every three years

As a result of the above, an IAPCO PCO offers a unique quality assurance recognised by congress clients and suppliers all over the world.


A non-member PCO may differ from an IAPCO PCO in one or more of the following ways:
– Core business is not professional congress organisation
– Level of expertise is not ensured through continuous quality control and assurance procedures
– Not under review by a Committee of Ethics in case of a dispute
– Not stimulated to take part in annual educational programmes
– Not part of an international forum exchanging ideas and expertise.
– This does not mean that non-member PCOs are unqualified to do the job to the highest level; it means that, when engaging or employing a PCO, careful attention should be paid to the level of expertise and quality assurance to ensure that the right PCO is selected.

IAPCO is a worldwide sign of quality and the solution to congress organising is to appoint an IAPCO member.

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