FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH

Conference organiser

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Article written by Rosalie Howard at Venue Pages (www.venuepages.co.za)

THE PCO’s ROLE

Q: What is a PCO? A: A Professional Conference Organiser

Sales and Marketing … there IS a difference and they work well together

I was employed in senior management in a fine hotel for over 10 years and the area I loved most and succeeded well in was the field of Sales and Marketing which in my position included Banqueting and Conference Coordinating, every aspect of sales, promotional golf days, exhibitions, educational site inspections for PCO’s, Travel Agents …. You name it.

From this platform, due to a back injury, I changed direction and the wind blew me into the PCO industry, which until a little while before, I bore a little bit of a grudge towards. Why? Because quite frequently in my position I would find that events I had been toiling on for weeks, liaising with my client on a personal one-to-one basis suddenly became the possession of a leading local PCO ! … When I raised this matter with our Operations Manager, who doubled as our General Manager, he had quite a time persuading me to take a different stance and to look at business from another angle …. This didn’t come easily to me at first because I guarded my successes in sales very closely and to suddenly find that my Operations Manager had given my bookings away to a PCO who was going to be earning 15% commission on these was indeed a bitter pill to swallow! In retrospect, Heaven knows why I reacted thus, as I didn’t earn commission. I was paid a monthly salary! I questioned whether it was jealousy or whether I was merely doing my job in support of my hotel, hanging onto every cent I could… After I ‘got it’, I understood ;though didn’t quite accept yet, that the value of the said PCO and for that matter any PCO was much greater than I had ever given them credit for, for the client in question, a large Blue Chip company had become her ‘client’ and she was their ‘guru’. She actually had it in her power to sway her client anywhere she chose!! That’s quite something right? … She was good, she was successful and she served me, I had to concede.

Conference organiser

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Now …. I am a PCO and have enjoyed fair success over 15 years … and I can now genuinely understand or have removed the blocks around this subject for I am on the other side now and ‘get’ just how valuable my Operations Manager’s words were at that time!

The Market Place …
Every PCO has a list, miles long of clients, either current or past and they are movers and shakers in finding future clients – they never rest … they are sales people, people! Believe it, they are! They are also marketing minded people, or they wouldn’t be in this industry. A reputable PCO will not market or sell a venue he or she does not believe will suit their client. It isn’t anyway in his or her interest to do so. We (I generalise) only promote venues we have tried and tested, who have good reputations or have been highly recommended to us and who meet expected standards. We build relationships with our clients, who come back again and again if they have received good service. We are a one-stop shop for them, their personal nanny if you like, because we relieve them of a lot of donkey work. A perfect solution for the PA or Secretary who works for 8 bosses, all of whom think his or her work is top priority. In return for their loyalty and support, we continue to offer them superb service, and I am sure I speak for most of us. It’s not an industry where one can make an easy or quick buck, take it from the horse’s mouth!! “We work hard for our money!”

Venue Support – Win-Win or Win-Lose?.
Just as the PCO’s serves their clients, they serve the venue as well. How?, you might ask – because, to ensure the success of the event, to ensure the satisfaction of our clients, we fully coordinate every detail from enquiry stage, to departure from the venue, making sure that every t is crossed, that every i is dotted. The task of gathering facts, itineraries, rooming lists, conference materials and papers, money, ordering gifts and conference bags, making name badges, transport, exhibitions, entertainment, décor, buying and installing the latest on-line registration programmes for our computers for efficient and professional management of the event … the tasks are endless, can be tedious and can take a year or longer to conclude, depending on the size and content of the event. Banqueting Coordinators in hotels and conference centres do not have time or experience in attending to all the requirements that are called for. That is not their job. They are experts at carrying out instructions from the client, they are highly qualified to make the event happen, either via the PCO or direct, depending on whether a PCO is involved or not. The hotel management can only do what they are asked to do. This begs a question … why is it that there are still many venues out there who do not appreciate what the PCO does, who believe that the PCO is overpaid and frequently try to beat them down in commission and it does happen! Seriously it happens! Any PCO will vouch for that or we are made to feel that they, the venue are doing us a favour by offering some sort of reward other than hard cash!

One day, we hope in the not too distant future, all hotels and conference centres will appreciate the value of a PCO to them from marketing and selling their specific venue to their client, to carrying out the numerous duties expected of them by the client AND the venue and that they will gladly pay what is essentially a pittance comparatively speaking if we take the entire event into consideration. Why is there often so much reluctance to acknowledge a PCO’s worth? My old Ops Manager, being a marketing minded man could see their value a long time ago and he changed my impressions and my stuck ideas of what a PCO truly represents!

For a free no obligation on a conference venue in South Africa please contact us on 082 055 0102 or complete the form below.

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Conference venues in Pretoria

Conference venues in Pretoria

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A little History on conference venues in Pretoria and Pretoria as a city

PRETORIA was founded in 1855, by Marthinus Pretorius, a Voortrekker leader. He named what is now, a bustling metropolis after his father, Andries, who was instrumental in the Voortrekker victory over the Zulus in the monumental Battle of Blood River.

Today the area has been renamed the City of Tshwane, but the CBD still keeps the name of Pretoria (which continues to be the administrative capital of South Africa)
The Union Buildings, central to South African history now represent the change South Africa endured. While the city is a governmentally significant city, it is also alive with culture, housing museums, monuments, theatres, hotels and conference centres as well as being the hub of industry in the region.
Affectionately known as “Jacaranda City” because of the over 50 000 Jacaranda trees that line Pretoria’s streets and carpet the city in purple in October. The first Jacaranda trees were imported from Rio de Janeiro in 1888 and became Pretoria’s signature. It is alarming to hear that the Jacarandas are threatening to become extinct in Pretoria soon. One can’t imagine Pretoria without the purple sky-line and floor …

The general area is also home to many nature reserves, parks and gardens, including the National Botanical Gardens and many small parks scattered across this pretty city.

The rich history of the area is also captured within several museums within Pretoria, such as the Transvaal Museum, National Cultural History Museum and many solid, old buildings that have been preserved as gems of the past

As with many of South Africa’s conference venues, those in Pretoria are of a high standard, with custom-built venues designed to international specifications. Pretoria, being centrally located as it is, is very popular as a conference, seminar and congress destination.

Central to the Midrand, Irene and further afield, one need look no further than the multitude of conference venues available from small intimate venues to the large, top-class hotels and conference centres in and around Pretoria.
Some venues, perhaps un-tried and certainly worth considering are:

The Owl’s Nest Wedding & Conference Centre (Rayton Conference Venues)

Set in the natural bush of the area, in the rolling hills of the Maghaliesberg, with a serene country ambience, The Owl’s Nest Wedding and Conference Centre provides professionalism plus a home-from-home atmosphere for delegates in conference.

Diep in die Berg Conference and Function Centre (Wapadrand Conference Venues)

The renowned Diep in die Berg Conference Centre is the ideal facility for the out-of-the-office conference, training or Bosberaad. Their all-purpose conference centre offers 7 conference rooms which can accommodate up to a maximum of 450 delegates.

PROTEA HOTELS offer a variety of venues throughout the area including Pretoria, and Midrand, all of which have a standard to uphold and are therefore reliable, consistently good with excellent service.

At Irene there is IRENE COUNTRY LODGE and LERIBA LODGE AND SPA at Centurion. The latter has, in recent times been thoroughly refurbished to a fine standard.

For all your conference requirements, visit our site on http://www.venuepages.co.za and send us your enquiries for conferences, seminars, meetings and related accommodation.

Article complied by Rosalie Howard

Conference venues Durban – Fairmont Zimbali Resort and Conference Centre – Ballito KZN North Coast

Conference venues Durban

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Conference venues Durban – Fairmont Zimbali Resort and Conference Centre – Ballito KZN North Coast

To adopt the fashionable cliché, “Think Outside The Box” …when thinking about hosting a conference in Durban, Think Outside The Box … Think Ballito.

FAIRMONT ZIMBALI RESORT & CONFERENCE CENTRE, BALLITO KZN NORTH COAST

Stunning Location

On the magnificent Dolphin Coast, overlooking the Indian Ocean is the superb and luxurious ZIMBALI RESORT only minutes from the CBD of Ballito, the popular, modern, rapidly growing, village of yester-year, well-known to all who have travelled this coastline. Only half an hour’s drive from Durban and with everything on-tap. Wrapped in the exquisite natural beauty of this are is this premier destination, a tranquil retreat offering style, class and unrivalled service.

Conference venues Durban

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Conferences, seminars, meetings

Zimbali Lodge specializes in personalized conference arrangements for small to large groups. This Conference Centre is practically appointed, purposefully designed and ideally situated for superb views of the Zimbali Estate and Country Club Golf Course. The 280 square metre ballroom can accommodate, in banqueting style seating, up to 300 guests. This venue may be used for multiple functions, requiring space … unlimited in what it offers. In addition “Zimbali” also offers a state-of-the-art business centre, complete with workstations.

Other Conference Venues at Zimbali

Imbiso Room

The imposing Imbiso Room, overlooking the golf course and the Nature reserve, is the focal point of the conference facilities. It can accommodate up to 80 delegates in cinema-style seating, 40 delegates in u-shape, 35 in boardroom style or 60 in a schoolroom configuration.

Conference venues Durban

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Tugela Room

An executive boardroom with an ocean view. The oval mahogany boardroom table dominates the room and this is the perfect venue for management meetings or Bosberaad and can accommodate 10 people.

Umgeni Room

The Umgeni Room is also a small, intimate venue in the main conference centre and can accommodate a maximum of 25 delegates in cinema style seating, 15 delegates in u-shape, 12 boardroom style or 15 in school-room configuration.

Catering for Conferences at Zimbali

The Lodge has capitalized on the glorious KwaZulu Natal climate to offer outdoor catering to conference groups on the Ngwenya Terrace, which is easily accessible from all the conference rooms. Guests may also opt for a formal dining experience in the Restaurant or hold a private gala event at the Country Club which caters for 76 inside the restaurant for dinner and if the venue is extended out onto the verandah 96 or 120 Guests at a cocktail event or launch. 9 food and beverage experiences, and an Internationally acclaimed Willow Stream Spa and fitness centre are also available at the resort.

Conference Equipment

A wide range of audio-visual aids and state-of-the-art equipment is available to conference delegates in the three conference rooms: Zimbali, operating to International standards is the ideal venue for global events, away from the noise and stress of the city, conveniently close to King Shaka International Airport and where delegates are guaranteed peace, security and result achieving conference days and some time for fun in the sun, soaking in the blue of the ocean on this coastline, watching dolphins leap in play.

Accommodation Rooms

These comprise 154 tastefully appointed guest rooms and suites, including a Penthouse and Presidential suites… this is sheer luxury. Local entertainment includes: • Safari outings • Dolphin- and whale-watching tours • Hiking and mountain biking • Historic Zulu battlefields • Exhilarating golf, including the Zimbali Country Club’s Tom Weiskopf–designed 18-hole championship course • Soccer, rugby, cricket and polo Shuttle service may be arranged with the hotel to and from the airport, and being located in this ideal area, this is the perfect venue for up-country delegates, international delegates and for Durbanites. Zimbali also offers unobtrusive yet excellent security.

Brought to you in the interest of efficient and professional event management by VENUE PAGES (www.venuepages.co.za). Contact us for rates and availability on 082 055 0102 / 0861 262 262 or e-mail rosalie@venuepages.co.za, or complete the contact us form below

(Composed by Rosalie Howard, Venue Pages)