Among the trends discussed by planners and their DMC partners during the GEP educational and networking sessions:

  • Consolidation. There is a trend in corporate America, driven in large part by new technologies, to consolidate the dollars spent on corporate meetings and events because of the potential for huge savings.

  • In-house or outsource? Meeting planning departments, in some cases, are being downsized, and corporate planners are running scared, worried about proving ROI. On the other hand, with fewer face-to-face meetings and events, some companies are bringing more planning and logistics in-house to save money.

  • Do more with less. Whether meetings and events are being planned in house or out-of-house, the reality is that budgets are smaller. One hot topic discussed during a panel session was the new voluntary ethical code issued by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which affects the money pharmaceutical companies spend at medical meetings.

    The PhRMA code encourages compliance with the three tests AMA uses to consider a gift ethical: 1) entail a benefit to patients; 2) be of nominal value; and 3) come with no strings attached. “All companies are expected to take the code seriously, and we anticipate that it will change the way we do business today,” said Joann Kerns, associate director, Global Meetings Management, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Plainsboro, N.J.

  • Shorter lead times. “What used to be a six-month program lead is now three.” How do planners and suppliers cope? Many say give the decision-makers more realistic time frames, or just say “no.”

  • Perceptions. While we have been warned by the security and planning experts never to bill any site as “safe,” planners and meeting attendees are gravitating toward destinations they deem neutral or safe (Switzerland, for example).

  • Tech Tools. DMCs need to be technology-savvy to make it to the top of the heap when corporate procurement folks become involved in choosing sites and vendors.

  • E-meetings. Technology has replaced some face-to-face meetings, but mostly small, internal meetings.

  • DMCs need to be willing to share risk regarding cancellation policies.