Academic institutions are not immune to the economic pressures faced by business. Recent reforms in the way universities are financed has meant that more money is coming from student tuition fees and less from government grants. Consequently many universities are now looking for alternative revenue streams to bolster their income.
Space hire, offering university premises such as halls and theatres as event venues, is one alternative but increasingly universities are realising that they need to be much more commercially aware and have gone one step further, offering a full PCO (Public Conference Organiser) service to their clients.
But to operate as a true PCO in an increasingly competitive environment, whilst at the same time growing their own events business, universities need to arm themselves with the same tools that PCOs rely on to do their jobs. Event technologies, such as that offered by Eventsforce, offer end-to-end event planning and management, taking care of every aspect of the event lifecycle, from planning, marketing and registration, to post-event analysis and reporting, across all events.
PCOs have long since recognised the importance of being able to quickly and simply set up events and manage them 24/7 from any location, and have grown to enjoy a wide range of other benefits such as the integrated management of abstracts, registration and sessions and the ability to create branded event websites from scratch without design experience. Universities are now set to enjoy the same benefits.
Professional Conference Organiser Marianne Dombrower of the University of St Andrews spoke to us about taking the decision to use Eventsforce and its effect on developing a PCO offering at the University.
When did you start working with Eventsforce and what prompted you to select them?
“I started with the University in May 2012 to take on a new position of the Professional Conference Organiser. To ensure this role had the tools to succeed an Event Management Software System was vital. It was important that the software included Abstract submission along with a flexible registration process.
“When I was in the research stage of choosing an event management system I was initially looking for a tool for one particular event. I spoke with existing Eventsforce clients who were all very happy with the system and had rated it superior to others that they had used in the past. I also spent time running demos of the product, which was useful.”
“We run predominantly academic and educational events here at St Andrews, for national and international associations. As mentioned previously, we initially purchased Eventsforce for use with one particular event but have since used it for more.
“We mainly leverage the front end web design, abstracts and registration modules of Eventsforce. Every event we host is very different to the last, so the flexibility and open-endedness of the registration module is essential. The abstract module can use pre-set templates if required and Reviewers can be provided with a Log on, which allows them only to view the Abstract section.
“After the initial event that we had purchased Eventsforce for, we then decided that we could actually do much more with this. We have since developed a full PCO service for clients that require it and this simply wouldn’t be possible without Eventsforce.
“The support we have received from Eventsforce has been fundamental in the success of our first events. The team in London are wonderful and do all they can to find the best solution for the particular event being worked on. We get regular updates of upgrades and changes and are kept well informed.”
To view the full case study, click here.