“Destination” did not make the top 10 list of reasons why healthcare attendees go to a conference, according to a recent survey that the Vienna, Austria, Convention Bureau took of more than 4,000 healthcare delegates. Beating out the lure of ski and sun were the opportunities to learn the latest in science, obtain continuing medical education, and network with peers. This means that convention bureaus looking to attract medical attendees to their destinations should be willing and able to promote congresses in their locales as opportunities to exchange scientific information, rather than tout the destinations’ attractions, said the Vienna Convention Bureau’s Christian Mutschlechner at a seminar that explored the role of various stakeholders in the healthcare congress chain, held during IMEX in Frankfurt, Germany, in May.

“It is not necessarily the most attractive destination that wins the day, but the one that suits the scientific focus of the association and the delegates,” said Martin Jensen, head of international congresses and events with H. Lundbeck, and a representative of the International Pharmaceutical Congress Advisory Association. Jensen participated in the session with Mutschlechner. Convention bureaus also should be proactive and understand what’s going on with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations and International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations codes, for example, so they can train their local hotels on compliance issues, said Mutschlechner. IPCAA member companies are asked to adhere to EFPIA or IFPMA codes when holding international events.

A third presenter, Caroline Mackenzie, director, business development, with the Congrex Group, and a representative of the International Association of Professional Congress Organizers, added that it also is important to take the cultural differences of a multicultural audience into account in today’s more globalized environment. Professional congress organizers, or PCOs, must understand the changes in the industry, and how they affect medical associations and their congresses, said Mackenzie. “From factors such as compliance and regulatory restrictions, stakeholder products going off patent, and fewer blockbuster products being launched into the market place, etc., PCOs must provide expert advice and a service offering to meet the changes not only for their clients but for all other stakeholders in the chain.”

Other items of importance for international healthcare congress stakeholders, the seminar leaders said, include
• capturing content so it can have a longer lifetime and be shared with a wider audience, and
• understanding the role of technology, particularly social media, on the structure of face-to-face medical congresses as well as compliance and regulation.

Video and PowerPoints of the seminar are available here.

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