As the Professional Conference Organiser Association’s (PCOA) annual conference draws nearer, we decided to ask its organisers a bit more about the event. The conference will take place over December 7-8, 2020, and follow a hybrid format for the first time, with the in-person component taking place at Hyatt Regency Sydney as well as a number of satellite locations across Australia and New Zealand.

The program has been released and the speakers confirmed, each of which will bring to life the theme – Flexibility is the Future – Live, Local & Connected.

Have a read through the responses to our questions below.

What did you think about when putting PCOA20 together?

The annual PCOA conference is a way to continually upskill our industry, providing professional development for those in our sector, with great content and networking opportunities. We wanted to ensure we could meet these requirements and deliver an engaging program that would provide flexibility for attendance, connect our community and deliver on the learning gaps in this rapidly changing environment. At the beginning of the year many of us thought that by mid-year we might be back to normal operations, but that view changed rapidly as time rolled on!

Why did you decide on a hybrid format?

As industry leaders, PCOA took a strategic viewpoint that we might not be able to get everyone together in one place for the traditional conference format, and that we need to experiment with a new way of delivering engaging, compelling content that would continue to grow our community with professional development opportunities.

Barry Neame, President of PCOA said: “We wanted to give the best outcomes to our industry to connect and collaborate, and so developed a format that would enable engagement in a variety of ways – either in person for those able and wanting to attend in their capital city, or to attend online and still have networking opportunities with their peers. We did not want to be bound by border openings/closures or potential lockdown restrictions – this event will provide an experience to suit everyone!

“Our community has truly demonstrated resilience this year and what is critical is for us to take a leap of faith and jump into this experiment, transitioning into what we feel may be a new normal, at least for a while now. PCOA as leaders in the sector wanted to set a benchmark and move forward boldly with our decision to create an event that is fluid in form and nature, with a flexible delivery mechanism supported by the great folk at Centium, using the OnAir platform.”

How did you curate the program?

Paula Leishman who has managed this year’s program said: “We firstly took on board feedback after the 2019 conference, which asked for more practical insights and case studies, and then closely examined the types of skillsets needed and challenges ahead for our industry to flourish.

“PCOA has been overwhelmed by the number of people who have reached out to play a role in delivering content for this year’s conference. So many have been so generous in contributing to the ongoing professional development of our industry. A special thanks must go out to Barry Markoff at ICMI for his incredible support.”

People in our industry are committed professionals, dedicated to their teams, their clients and the industry – traditionally working in a somewhat frenzied environment!  We have all learnt a lot over the last nine months or so, but one thing that is clear is that everyone wants to get back to creating opportunities to connect people, bringing them together in this new world. We are all working with our clients to find out what they want, and to source ways of making this happen – taking clients with us on this same journey.

Paula Leishman continued: “It is critical as industry leaders that we move with the times and consider the disruptors and the changes that COVID restrictions have placed upon us.

“There are many stories about businesses not realising opportunities in the marketplace, like Sony. For decades they were a leader in the music industry, owning their own content and hardware, but the company was unable to synergise it businesses.

“Hop along to 2001 and the launch of the IPOD, Sony begins to lose its position and move along another 20 years to the current day and the subscription model for music and entertainment. Sony were in the box seat in the 90s but failed to see the opportunity.

“As PCOs we need to consider the opportunities that the virtual platforms have brought to our businesses and consider how we can maximise these changes. We do not want to be left as a museum piece, we need to adapt, flex and deliver to the changing needs of the marketplace.”

To find out more about or register for PCOA20, visit: https://www.pcoaconference.com.au/