Experienced PCOs in Malaysia needed for business events growth: industry experts

Malaysia’s small pool of PCOs may put the destination at a disadvantage in its pursuit of conferences, opined two industry leaders at the BE @ Penang conference which concludes this afternoon.

Noor Ahmad Hamid, regional director, Asia Pacific with ICCA, told TTGmice e-Weekly: “There are many factors involved in making a destination successful with business and association conferences, and one of them is the presence of many PCOs with experience in delivering conferences.

Noor Ahmad Hamid

“These PCOs may be homegrown or overseas representations of core PCOs.”

Noor explained that the presence of experienced PCOs give clients confidence in the destination and that their event will be well taken care of.

With that in mind, Noor said there is a “dire need for more PCOs in Malaysia” should the country hope to grow its conference business.

“But there must also be a focus on quality (in terms of PCO service delivery) because a poorly delivered conference will affect the reputation of the destination,” he added.

“Work is cut out for Malaysian CVBs in this aspect, as they have to drive education for local DMCs and event planners, especially for those agencies that are considering making the transition from DMC to PCO,” he said.

Waikin Wong, senior sales manager – associations, Malaysian Convention & Exhibition Bureau, said Malaysia has only four meeting practitioners that have undergone the Convention Industry Council’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) programme but was unable to quantify the number of PCOs.

While she agrees that the small pool of PCOs in the country may “give Malaysia a losing edge” when associations are selecting host destinations, Wong said the impact is “slight” because some conferences are small enough to rely only on DMCs or come with their own core PCO.

“It is more critical that our PCOs are of international standards,” Wong remarked.

“As such, we encourage our meeting practitioners to attain CMP status and to attend industry educational events such as this BE @ Penang conference, to expand their knowledge,” Wong said.

She pointed out that the small number of CMP practitioners in Malaysia is “not because they are not qualified but rather because they are not motivated to do so or feel that they are still getting business even without that certification”.

Wong suggested that Malaysian DMCs with some experience in supporting international conferences, could make a transition into the PCO sphere by first establishing a conference support division.

However, Noor warned that DMCs keen on that transition should consider its own capacity and if experienced human resources are available to support that expansion as well as a change in revenue stream since association conferences take longer to materialise.

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