Med device and pharmaceutical meeting planners got a healthy dose of reality regarding the regulatory environment when they gathered together for the inaugural West Coast Medical Device and Bio/Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum. Co-organized by Medical Meetings and the Center for Business Intelligence, the conference brought about 200 attendees to the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa, Calif., from December 10 to 11.

Compliance was a running theme throughout many of the sessions. As one speaker put it, as meeting planners, not only are we responsible for contributing to the success of our companies, we are also being charged with interpreting industry regulations to ensure we don’t get ourselves or our organizations in trouble.

Speakers also stressed the importance of becoming more strategic amid challenges such as shorter lead times, an increased workload, and greater scrutiny from federal and state regulators. Roundtable discussions offered an open forum for attendees, who didn’t shy away from discussing and debating controversial topics such as dealing with pushy doctors, authoring noncompete clauses in contracts, and negotiating with hoteliers. Day one concluded with a panel discussion on hotel contracting and negotiations, where planners and hoteliers discussed how the two sides could better work together to reach a win/win relationship.

The final day of the conference featured four concurrent tracks, where attendees broke into workshops geared toward their specific roles. One was for senior meeting planners; others were for medical device, pharma, and independent meeting planners. The day ended with two panel discussions—the first on strategic meetings management and the second on future trends, where panelists fielded attendees’ questions and touched on everything from social networking tools to green meetings.

Look for more coverage of the inaugural West Coast Medical Device and Bio/Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum in the January/February 2008 and March/April 2008 issues of Medical Meetings.

The event served as a companion to the annual East Coast meeting. Registration is currently under way for the Fourth Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum, taking place March 17 to 19, 2008, at the Baltimore Convention Center. Click here for registration details.