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Feb 15, 2010

Professional Conference Organizer Contracts

The contract for a professional conference organizer (PCO) or conference management company can be the most important and valuable part of planning for a conference.


A PCO contract defines the services to be provided, such as accounting, local arrangements, and so on. But more importantly it defines the parameters of the relationship between a Conference Organizing Committee and the PCO. This relationship can make or break a Conference.

For the most part, the IEEE Signal Processing Society service agreements have been favorable. However, we have recently seen conferences suffer due to risky and vague PCO contracts.

To maintain the integrity and health of the IEEE Signal Processing Society Conference business we are implementing two procedural changes:

1) A Request for Proposal (RFP) must be issued by all conferences who wish to hire a PCO to perform Registration and/or Technical Review. [Send an email the to request the form.]

2) Statements of Work within the PCO agreement must enumerate the rates and fees.

The RFP will give the conference competitive bids for the business. Competitive bids provide a starting point for discussing prices and services. They also give you the information necessary to make an informed decision.

The PCO you select will be the one who most clearly matches your requirements and with whom you feel you will be able to work in partnership.

Once you have selected the PCO you need only notify the SPS Conference Services Staff of your selection. We will work with the selected PCO to ensure that you have a clear and complete contract, which includes a statement of work you require to be undertaken by the PCO. Most PCOs will have a standard agreement that they will send to you for consideration. This agreement must have an enumerated rate and fee schedule. The schedule gives us valuable information about what the conference is going to be charged for each service thereby clearly identifying the financial benefits and risks of the agreement.

The SPS Conference Services staff will facilitate both procedures on behalf of the Conference Organizing Committee.

- Lisa Schwarzbek, Manager of Conference Services