At a lecture session at the PCCO Academy in Bologna, Italy, Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno (pictured above), vice president, AIM Group International, urged Professional Conference Organizers to “raise the level of business discussions with clients and continuously find new opportunities for value creation.”
PCCO Academy is the training program for events professionals organized by the Italian industry association Federcongressi & Eventi, which was founded in 2004 as a federation of meetings and incentive industry associations operating in Italy. It became a national association in 2010.
Buongiorno asserts that In a highly competitive market, it is necessary to give more value to services to avoid being perceived as a simple commodity.
“The question to be answered is this: Is commodity killing PCOs or is it PCOs that are not renovating their products and the way they promote them?” says Buongiorno. “First and foremost a PCO has to identify its strengthens and the areas where, for each particular client, it is able to deliver outstanding value. Then, and this is of the utmost importance, listen carefully to the client’s needs, history, problems, business model and expectations, even those initially not clearly declared by the client.”
She added that the final step is to be totally customer-oriented.
During the lecture session Buongiorno also outlined the importance of having a clear and complete discussion with the client, noting that PCOs should ask themselves and the client the right questions regarding the event, allowing them to implement the most suitable solutions. She presented some successful case histories of events organization as concrete examples of the way to answer for an association’s needs.
She gave the event professionals some tips to effectively attract and retain association clients including:
- Demonstrate the competitive advantage offered to clients;
- Deliver tangible benefits, both quantitative and qualitative;
- Focus on long-term goals, based on trust and on a common strategic approach;
- Improve up-selling, offering more high-value items;
- Learn from past experiences (successes and problems);
- Propose innovative solutions, in terms of event format, fundraising, participants engagement, etc.;
- Be responsive and proactive as an extension of the association.
“PCOs must convince clients that it is worthwhile to buy the best value and to recognize that it’s not how little you pay, it’s how much you get,” says Buongiorno. “Added-value may be more expensive than services, but worth the price.”
AIM Group International has worked in the meeting and event management industry for more than 50 years and is committed to helping clients reach their goals, personalizing their event experiences, providing an innovative environment, and making a difference. For more info, visit aimgroupinternational.com.