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Roslyn McLeod: ”What has become normal no longer is”
Both Italian and International surveys are showing a decrease in the number of participants and days for each events, even though the number of events organized per year remains quite stable. How do you interpret it? Could it mean that in 2010 smaller and more targeted events will be the new trend?

”These economic times provide the environment for acceptable change. By this I mean that recession can be a convenient excuse for companies and organisations to make dramatic change to their policies in the name of survival for the future. This means that what has become normal no longer is! Reducing expenditure by eliminating participation in congresses for sponsorship, exhibiting or as delegates is an option that many organisations have undertaken. That is why numbers in a variety of events have reduced. The other reason is competition for the available dollar will flow to those PCOs who offer the best value proposition. In other words if the program is attractive, the venue appealing and the price is right then the event will win over competing events. The buyers spending their dollars have lots of choice and are looking for opportunities to get the best ROI so it is imperative to have the best sales team to make success. Not all meetings are experiencing reduced numbers - even in these tough times the more successful PCO is still breaking records, not losing ground. It is their less skilled competitors that are making the statistics look poor.”

 

How is your feeling about the scientific congresses for next years?

”Here in Europe many meetings are continuing to grow as Europe extends its reach into newer EU countries. Europe is attractive to the rest of the world and still a magnet as the scientific standards in many European congresses has continued to improve. But not all scientific congresses will grow and be more successful. It is the congresses that are well run and moving with the times, offering the latest in science and the best in technology, operating in most appropriate venue with the right level of service that will succeed. Those that are living in the past, not keeping up with technology nor in touch with what delegates in their profession want are the congresses that will suffer and diminish in size and success. Some areas of science have become greedy and are populating too many congresses and this will have a detrimental effect on not only the credibility of their meetings but also the support from sponsors and exhibitors who will find more cost effective ways to reach their prospective clients.”

 

In your opinion, are there new or preferred criteria to choose a location/destination for a congress?

”Competition is the key these days. There is a lot of it. If venues are not offering the right space, service and price then their chance of building their business is at risk. Reputation is important. The word soon gets around our global industry if locations and venues are not up to standard or delivering on their promises. Web 2.0 technologies or social networking are alive and driving decisions so it is very public when performance is not positive.”

 

Do you think Italy offers good and suitable locations according to the above criteria?

 

”Everyone is tempted to attend a congress in Italy - the country is very popular but there are some negatives that I hear from past clients who have had the Italian experience. There is no beating the wonderful hospitality of Italians, the fabulous food and wines, the wonderful touristic sites, the history and the romantic atmosphere but not all convenors choose a PCO with the right experience. The right experience is needed to manage the complexity of congress detail and to get the marketing, finances and on site delivery right but too often I hear stories of how the wrong type of company has done their best but not delivered the right results for the international association, the speakers or the delegates. The usual comments are around transport and ease of movement between sessions in a reasonable time frame - these are important elements to get right in order to deliver success for all involved. There does seem to be an issue with purpose built convention centres in Italy and a real need for better venues to meet the needs of large congresses. When the whole product comes together well it is hard to compete with Italy with its many attractive elements but from time to time I hear how this hasn't happened because an experienced PCO was not engaged. An experienced PCO like Studio Ega is imperative to overcome the issues already mentioned.”

 

What do you expect from ICCA 2009?

”An update on the global congress environment - what is ahead of us for the new decade. Also to meet up with colleagues from around the world and swap stories. Of course as I mentioned before it will be a great opportunity to experience Italian hospitality and I hope it will be a well run meeting - Italy is on show and we expect it will put on a great demonstration of a well run meeting. I expect to have a wonderful time in one of the world's most appealing cities. I expect to leave with an experience that I can talk about for time to come to colleagues and friends back home and around the world.”

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Interview to Roslyn McLeod, Managing Director of arinex pty limited, Sydney Australia, founder of the leading Australian PCO, Co-chair of INCON Partnership - a network of leading PCOs; Council Member of IAPCO and president elect for the Rotary Club of Sydney.