ABPCO - The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers,  a history


The ABPCO sought to clarify all aspects of conference organising and publised the below as a guideline

ABPCO members can assist with all aspects of conference planning, promotion and management. Such services include:

  • Venue selection, booking and liaison, reservation and management of delegate accommodation
  • Event marketing, including the design of conference programmes and promotional materials, PR and media co-ordination, presentations to committees and boards
  • Programme planning, speaker selection and briefing
  • Provision of an administrative secretariat, handling delegate registrations, recruitment and briefing of conference staff, co-ordinating delegates’ travel arrangements
  • Organisation of exhibitions, including sales and marketing functions
  • Advising on and co-ordinating audio-visual services and the production of the event, including the provision of multilingual interpretation and translation services
  • Arranging social events, tour programmes and technical visits
  • Arranging security cover and advising on health and safety issues
  • Recording, Seo Agency, transcribing and producing the proceedings of meetings for publication, arranging poster sessions, processing of abstracts
  • Preparation of budgets, managing event income and expenditure, generating revenue through sponsorship, exhibitions and satellite meetings, handling VAT and insurance issues
  • Preparation of contracts with venues and other suppliers


The Guidelines set out below are designed to assist those involved with the hosting or planning of a conference for the first time on how to approach Professional Conference Organisers with a good outline brief about the event on which they can obtain competitive quotations. The Guidelines are also applicable to those seeking to outsource the management of conferences, meetings and similar events previously organised internally.

This document is not intended to provide a full detailed specification. It is meant as a guide to the major areas for consideration before proceeding to tender.


Whilst many Association meetings have a full and detailed history on which to base your specifications, there are various processes which should be undertaken prior to making the decision to develop the format for a meeting/conference:

  • What are your objectives?
  • What do you want to say?
  • To whom do you want to say it?
  • When would be the right time?
  • How long will it take to reach your objectives?
  • Where is a good location, taking into account the geographical spread of participants?

You should always make clear whether a firm decision has been made to proceed with the conference and how many companies have been invited to tender.

By considering the above points and by studying past documents, much of the basic information needed for the tender document is identified, ie:

When, where and why.
The target audience and, therefore, how to reach them.
The likely final attendance numbers - if you can obtain the correct previous attendance figures, this is ideal.
The length and format of the meeting (number of days and number of rooms).
How speakers are identified (ie. invited or have submitted papers) and the number of speakers and/or abstracts.
Number of languages for printwork and sessions.
Accommodation requirements and spending power of the participants.
Social programme opportunities.

If this is an ongoing event, then information on previous delegate fee levels and sponsorship opportunities is helpful. As much historical data as possible should be included and if you have copies of a previous printed programme (plus any other print items), this will be of additional help as an indication of style.

Many conferences have associated exhibitions and your Professional Conference Organiser can assist you with the planning, selling and management of the exhibition. Again, if you can obtain historical data then do, including the number of exhibitors and the average size of stand.


The quotation submitted by the Professional Conference Organiser will set out in detail all the services their company will provide to organise your event. The costs set out will be for their staff time required to administer the event on your behalf. Out-of-pocket expenses for travel, accommodation, postage, fax etc. are normally an additional cost recharged to the client and included in the conference budget. The tender can include a draft budget but exact costings will be prepared at a later stage.

Having received and considered the various tenders, it is essential to draw up a shortlist of three or four companies who should be invited to make a formal presentation to you and your colleagues. All unsuccessful applicants should be advised by you of the position.

Consideration should be given to a contribution towards travel costs when companies are asked to present their services overseas.

Finally, whatever you decide in awarding the contract, it is usual to advise all those organisations which tendered of the outcome.

ABPCO - The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers, a brief history: We pride ourselves on excellent customer service and actively seek feedback from our customers to ensure that high levels of customer satisfaction are maintained. conferences@abpco.org.uk or Conference Organising Made Simple | UK |

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