This is the question that often our customers ask us when we face a large board to present our services and our solutions.

It’s a direct and insidious question forcing us to think about what we are really able to offer in terms of added value. And the answer we can give to this question explains why today PCOs still exist.

PCOs are yet reinventing themselves, they can no longer just offer traditional commodities and services such as records management, abstracts, a conference venue or social programs and ground services. Today we must be able to become consultants, to help define strategies, to work on customers’ positioning, to increase the members of an association as well as the participants in a congress, to scout new solutions in terms of communication and networking. The service industry is changing completely and we PCOs, operating right in this area, must acknowledge this rapid evolution and strong disruption – and thus adapt to change.

Our customers in turn are becoming more complex, with different and changing needs. Professional associations get to source internally the services they need, outsourcing less and less, scouting many agencies/suppliers and choosing among a multitude of new offers, supported by a technology which allows to internalize a lot.

Markets are becoming larger and more complex too. Globalization means learning to manage international clients as well as globally operating companies. Connectivity is an integral part of our daily life: thanks to the Internet, any profession can be carried out from anywhere in the world, thus increasing the need for both transparency and a rapid and effective communication.

News travels fast and the customers know exactly what our competitors do. We are thus constantly evaluated and compared.

All this is at an absolute necessity to change our business models. And actually if we look at PCOs’ websites we realize that it is all about consulting, marketing strategies and methodology, digital communications, implementation of communication plans through multidisciplinary teams, identification of tools for smarter thinking and so on.

I have seen many PCOs adding in the past two years the words “group” and “international” to their brands and expanding agreements and networking to more and more destinations in their portfolio as a reaction to this “pressure”, coming out of the rapid evolution of the outside world.

Certainly adding is not enough – you have to change the mindset of corporate people and to train them as well as clients – especially domestic ones – to a wider and innovative approach.

This challenge started off several years ago but today it has become crucial to the survival of even those small niche players teaching us customer care, attention to detail, the management of small dedicated teams. Often it is not the size to be a winner but everyday’s innovation getting our teams and companies be reformulated.

 

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