Gotta love dinner with meeting planners

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Last night, I begged off greeter duty a bit early at the 1st Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum, which Medical Meetings is cosponsoring with The Center for Business Intelligence, and snuck out to have dinner with some cyberbuddies from the MIMlist listserv. With the hotel restaurant being a bit pricey for our budget, we headed down the street to the local Chilis restaurant.

It was packed. Out the door packed, which is kind of bizarre for a Wednesday night. Maybe others in town for the conference had the same idea. Anyway, we asked if we had to wait if we just sat in the bar, having spied several empty tables. The hostess said OK, so we grabbed a booth in the bar area. Then the hostess came over and said that the booth actually wasn't in the bar, even though it was, and we had to get back in line. OK then. But then one of those high-top tables with barstools opened up, so we grabbed it. But no, that also was not to be, and we got kicked out again--seems that in this establishment, unlike our local Chilis in Nashua, N.H., there are no tables in the bar, just the bar itself, which was full, too.

The planners I was with were getting a little testy by now, not to mention hungry. One went over to ask how many more were still in front of us, and the hostess refused to let her see the list, hugging it to her chest like a long-lost child. Then another one went over to ask. After a few of these visits, a table miraculously opened up--in the bar, no less. The most frustrating thing was that we could see the first booth we sat at, and the other table, were still open, and had been the whole time. But we finally got to eat--yay!

It was ridiculous, and emphasized the importance of something that kept coming up at the conference sessions today: The importance of good service. While there are all kinds of rules that keep pharmaceutical companies from being able to go wild with the amenities at their meetings, hotels can still get an edge with these guys by providing impeccable service.

Hmm, too bad there wasn't anyone from that Chilis' management at the conference. They could have learned something.

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