Meet the President Interview – André Vietor

Andre Vietor article

An industry veteran with 35 years of experience, André Vietor was President of the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) from 2006 to 2008. He also served as IAPCO’s Training Academy Chair from 2012 to 2017. He is currently the Managing Director for BCO Congresos, based in Spain. His areas of expertise are consultancy services in business development and designing business plan strategies for destinations and associations, the planning and management of bid presentations, destination marketing as well as association management. This year, André was elected president of the World PCO Alliance, and in this interview he shares his observations about the current industry, the role of the Alliance and what he foresees for the organization and the industry.

1) How long have you been an Alliance partner?

Bco Congresos became a member of the World PCO Alliance in 2013. Our commitment to the Alliance has strengthened over the years, and we continue to thrive as an integral member of this global network.

2) What do you find special about the Alliance?

What sets the World PCO Alliance apart is its unique focus on Professional Conference Organizers (PCOs) operating exclusively within specific countries or geographic regions, rather than on a global scale. This distinctive criterion guides the Alliance in selectively approaching companies that align with this specialization. The overarching goal is to establish a global presence by uniting PCOs from diverse regions, creating a network where members collaborate not as competitors but as knowledge-sharing allies.

The Alliance's primary mission is to cover as many countries as possible, with the objective that members do not compete for conferences but instead contribute to a collective pool of expertise and business insights. This collaborative spirit is based on the principle of mutual benefit, fostering an environment where local expertise and global solutions seamlessly converge for the benefit of clients organizing international meetings.

Among the multiple advantages for our clients is the streamlined transfer of data and information between Alliance partners who have previously managed specific conferences. This ensures a smooth transition of knowledge when another member takes charge of organizing the same conference in the future (subject to the client's prior consent). Additionally, clients reap the benefits of impactful marketing and promotion within the professional communities of all partner countries, enhancing the visibility and success of their international events.

The Alliance's success is further underscored by numerous examples of fruitful collaborations among partners, where tasks and responsibilities are shared, resulting in conferences of the highest professional caliber. This collective synergy exemplifies the Alliance's commitment to delivering unparalleled value to clients through the fusion of local insight and global capabilities.

3) What are the greatest challenges facing the meetings industry in the next couple of years?

The global meetings industry is facing a number of challenges in the next couple of years, including:

Sustainability: The meetings industry is facing increasing pressure to adopt sustainable practices. This includes reducing the environmental impact of events, managing waste, and promoting eco-friendly practices. Meeting planners are challenged to find ways to make events more sustainable without compromising quality and financial outcome.

Economic Uncertainty: Economic fluctuations and uncertainties can impact corporate and association budgets for meetings and events. Organizations may need to reassess their spending priorities, and the industry must adapt to the changing financial landscapes as well as seek new revenue streams.

Adapting to Changing Attendee Expectations: Attendees' expectations for events are evolving. Meeting organizers need to stay attuned to changing preferences in terms of content delivery, networking opportunities, and overall event experiences.

Geopolitical Issues and Travel Concerns: Geopolitical tensions and travel-related challenges, such as visa restrictions and geopolitical conflicts, can impact international events. Ensuring smooth cross-border collaborations and attendee mobility may require additional considerations.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: There is an increasing focus on making events more inclusive and diverse. Meeting planners face the challenge of creating environments that embrace diversity and promote equal opportunities for all participants.

4) What are some things professionals and PCOs can do to manage these challenges and overcome them?

To overcome the challenges facing the industry, PCOs need to focus on innovation and collaboration. They need to find new ways to make events more engaging, personalized, and sustainable. They also need to work together with other industry stakeholders to develop new solutions to the challenges they face.

Here are some specific steps that meeting planners can take to address the challenges facing the industry:

Develop a strong value proposition: Clearly articulate to potential attendees the benefits of attending your events.

Use technology to enhance the attendee experience: Use tools such as mobile apps, virtual reality, and augmented reality to make events more immersive and engaging.

Create a sustainable event footprint: Use eco-friendly materials, reduce waste, and offset your carbon footprint.

Connect with other industry partners and stakeholders in the local community: Work with hotels, airlines, and other event providers to address collective challenges. In addition, we have to make sure that players in the local community such as governments, institutions and universities join forces since it is becoming an increasingly key destination selection criterion.

By taking these steps, meeting planners can help to ensure the continued growth and success of the industry in the years to come.

5) How is the World PCO Alliance positioned to overcome these challenges and/or adapt to the future?

The World PCO Alliance is well-positioned to overcome the challenges and adapt to the future of the meetings industry for several reasons:

Global reach: The Alliance has members in all regions of the world, giving it a global perspective on the industry and access to a wide range of expertise. This global reach will be invaluable as the industry becomes increasingly globalized.

Shared knowledge and resources: The Alliance provides a platform for its members to share knowledge, best practices, and resources. This sharing of knowledge will help members stay up-to-date on the latest trends and find innovative solutions to the challenges they face.

Industry advocacy: The Alliance is a strong advocate for the meetings industry, working to promote its value and to ensure that the industry has a voice in policy discussions. This advocacy will help create a more favorable environment for the industry.

Innovation and collaboration: The Alliance is committed to innovation and collaboration, and it is constantly looking for new ways to improve the way events are planned and executed. This commitment to innovation will help the industry adapt to the challenges of the future.

The World PCO Alliance is also committed to providing its members with the resources and support they need to succeed in the ever-changing world of the meetings industry. The Alliance's knowledge base, networking opportunities, and advocacy efforts will continue to be invaluable assets to its members as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future.

6) How do you feel about being president?

Serving as president of the World PCO Alliance is a challenging and rewarding role, offering the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the global meetings industry. By leading with integrity, fostering collaboration, and embracing innovation, my role during my presidency term is to help the organization achieve its goals and to contribute to the growth and success of the industry as a whole.

On a more personal level, being president of the World PCO Alliance also means having the necessary passion for our industry, a commitment to excellence, and a willingness to dedicate as much time as needed to ensure the Alliance’s success.

7) Speak a little about the people on your team, namely vice-president, treasurer, etc.

I have the privilege to be surrounded by enthusiastic and highly committed people on my Executive team.

Sumate Sudasna from CDM Thailand is the new Vice-President and a long-standing member of the WPCOA. Since the Alliance’s origins are in Asia, Sumate has a wealth of experience.

Caroline Knies from Meetagain in Sweden has taken on the Treasurer role formerly held by Sumate. Her company is one of the “younger” members of the Alliance, as is the case of Bco Congresos. This exemplifies a strong initiative and a willingness to drive things forward.

And there is Nancy Tan from Ace:Daytons Direct (Int’l) in Singapore who serves on the board as Immediate Past President. Nancy is an inspiring leader with whom I had the pleasure to work with during her presidency term.

8) What is one goal you have for the Alliance over your presidency term?

Since the presidency term is restricted to two years, it is important to have a long-term vision and strategy. In other words, during my mandate there will be, of course, continuity by driving forward current tasks and activities that are designed to achieve the overall goals and objective of the Alliance.

One of my specific goals during the upcoming year is to strengthen the existing collaborations among Alliance members by increasing business opportunities as well as enhancing the value proposition to our clients.

9) In five years, the World PCO Alliance will be….

Our vision is that in five years, the World PCO Alliance will be a thriving and influential organization that is recognized as one of the leading voices in the global meetings industry. The Alliance will have:

expanded its global reach: The Alliance will have grown its membership base to include more PCOs from around the world, reflecting the increasing globalization of the meetings industry.

strengthened its advocacy efforts: The Alliance will have become a powerful advocate for the meetings industry, working to promote its value to businesses and policymakers.

established itself as a thought leader in the meetings industry who shapes the industry conversation.

forged stronger partnerships with other key industry stakeholders.

positioned itself as an international network that provides even more tangible value and global solutions to clients who rotate with their meetings within a specific geographical region or through all five continents.

By achieving these goals, the World PCO Alliance will cement its position as a leading force in the global meetings industry, shaping the future of events and driving positive impact for businesses, organizations, and communities around the world.


Click here to read last month’s interview with Thania Carrera of T&C Group .