The results are in from a nine-month study of pharma meeting professionals.
It's no secret that the job of the meeting planner has changed significantly in recent years. Perhaps none more so than the pharmaceutical planner, who faces increased federal scrutiny, along with compliance mandates, the involvement of procurement,, centralization, and other trends.
CMI's sister magazine— in conjunction with The Center for Business Intelligence and research partner Cutting Edge Information — recently concluded a nine-month survey with pharmaceutical and biotechnical companies and medical-meeting-planning suppliers, and it revealed the results at its Fourth Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum, held March 17-19 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
“It's about how industry is approaching meeting planning today,” began conference keynote speaker Elio Evangelista, research team leader at Cutting Edge, highlighting three key trends culled from the data:
Companies have shifted to a centralized meeting planning structure, which allows planners to become more strategic.
Pharmaceutical companies are increasing spending on meetings, with most of the money spent on outsourcing, yet they are decreasing the number of meetings.
Companies have stricter standards and policies because of the regulatory environment.
Almost all the companies polled, 96 percent, have meeting planning departments, with 82 percent of them having a centralized structure. Procurement's increased involvement in meetings, as well as the critical need for compliance with regulations, are key reasons for the shift to centralization, said Evangelista.
However, while centralization is a major trend, not all companies make it mandatory to report meetings through a central department. Indeed, 47 percent have a policy that requires all meetings to be scheduled through the meetings department, while 32 percent mandate centralized scheduling for some meetings. Further, 21 percent have no requirements; scheduling meetings through the department is voluntary. The numbers show a bit of a disconnect, said Evangelista, between establishing the structure to track meetings and actually tracking them.
Like the shift to centralization, there is also a move to outsourcing. Ninety-one percent of companies outsource at least some aspect of meeting planning, and, on average, 73 percent of a company's meetings budget is outsourced to third-party vendors.
For more pharma planner survey data, including meeting spend, preferred destinations, and compliance issues, look for the full report in the June issue of Medical Meetings at meetingsnet.com.