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October 6, 2014
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ABPCO Debate Airs Challenges in Supply Chain Processes




handshakeKeeping everyone on the same page isn't always easy, experts on a recent panel debate led by the Association of British Professional Conference Organizers (ABPCO) at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in Westminster, U.K., made perfectly clear. 

What are the pitfalls? Inadequate information, participants who hesitate to share project details with others and fundamental differences in business needs are all culprits. These contribute to failings in client, PCO and supplier relationships, the ABPCO-led discussion found.

Panel participants included Sue Etherington, commercial director of the conference center; Michael Judd, account director, associations, Hilton Hotels; Rachael McGuickin, director of business tourism, Visit Belfast; Barbara Blow, development director, TFI Meeting Point; and Phil Ross, head of Events, UCAS.  

The event, held under Chatham House Rules, offered a chance for association clients, PCOs and suppliers to air their views on the supply chain process and challenges, before addressing key issues. Following opening statements, individual groups then gathered to discuss and identify solutions to specific needs, including: 

  • The need for associations to understand and make room for the financial realities faced by PCOs, venues and accommodation suppliers, including cashflow, fixed variable costs, availability, peak dates and the impact of attrition and cancellations.
  • The importance of sharing information such as historic event data, opportunities for shared revenue, past failures and marketing opportunities. As one venue participant pointed out: "We are willing to negotiate far more than people realize around certain areas - but can only do so if we are provided with hard facts."

"We are incredibly grateful to all those who took part, the event was a huge success and these are just a couple of the points raised during our discussion," said Jennifer Jenkins, ABPCO’s chairman. 

A full whitepaper will be published shortly looking at the importance of relationships across the whole conference management chain. What was the big "takeaway" from the event? "We cannot think in terms of clients and suppliers but must instead focus on working relationships and partnerships," said Jenkins. 

For more information, visit www.abpco.org.uk.


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About the Author: Susan Young



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