Ali Copeman, akB Conference Management Ali Copeman, akB Conference Management

‘Use endorsed PCOs,’ urges chair

The industry as a whole needs to better understand the significance of using an endorsed professional conference organiser, according to the new chairperson of the Approved Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) Group. Dunedin-based Ali Copeman, of akB Conference Management, says endorsed PCOs go through a rigorous process to achieve the status, especially around financial viability.

‘We have proven that we are stable and successful companies with established records. When someone uses an unendorsed PCO there is no guarantee that company is compliant or that funds are secure.’ Copeman says that while there is recognition of Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) Approved PCOs, there are still industry organisations that sometimes recommend organisers outside of that group’s members. ‘Often clients come through convention bureaux so obviously we would like the various bureaux and Tourism New Zealand to only use endorsed PCOs.’ Copeman, who was appointed to the chairperson role recently, says that in general ‘life is good’ for PCOs right now. ‘We are busy. The economy has improved and we are seeing more speed.’ She says that following the global financial crisis there was not necessarily a drop off in events, particularly association conferences. ‘We certainly did see delegate numbers drop. Where two or three people from a company would normally go to a conference, that reduced to one in many cases. These numbers are back now though – we are seeing more international delegates and conferences in New Zealand as well. We are part of the country’s tourism success story. ‘In saying that, we’d like to see more support to recognise the processes we go through to achieve endorsement. We are all looking for extra work and ultimately that allows us to employ more people.’