The economy and its impact on meetings was the hot-button topic for medical device and pharmaceutical meeting planners who gathered together for the second annual West Coast Medical Device and Bio/Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum held December 8 to 9 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Co-organized byand the Center for Business Intelligence, the conference brought together about 100 meeting planners and suppliers to discuss trends facing the medical meetings industry.
Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, president of Concepts Worldwide Inc., Carlsbad, Calif., who served as facilitator of the forum, began the conference by urging attendees to stay positive during these tough times. “We will get through this,” she said. “We need to get back to basics and make sure the meetings we plan have clear objectives and quantifiable metrics so that they are not first on the cutting block. Meetings that get measured get funded.”
During the keynote panel that followed on day one, planners in the med device and pharmaceutical industries shared their experiences managing meetings in the down economy and spoke frankly on topics ranging from regionalizing sales meetings to negotiating with hotels. Here’s a rundown of some of what was discussed:
- One planner said that her company decided to hold 86 district sales meetings in place of one national sales meeting in order to cut costs. “We were hoping to save 20 percent over our 2007 program, but we ended up saving 50 percent.”
- “We’re seeing a reduction in the number of meetings we’re planning for the first two quarters of next year,” said another planner. She added that the company is also reducing the number of internal employees in attendance at external meetings.
- Incentives, however, remain stable. “We have one sales incentive currently and we don’t intend to make any changes to that program,” said one planner. “Cutting back on that wouldn’t be right.”
- On the topic of negotiations, a hotel saleswoman on the panel stated that she has seen pharma planners get creative in what they are requesting of hotels—even after a contract has been signed.
The conference included a track geared toward med device planners and another for pharma planners, as well as discussions on; roundtable conversations on compliance, , hotel , and meeting technology; and a closed-door summit for senior meeting managers.
This event serves as a companion to the annual East Coast meeting, now approaching its fifth year. Registration is under way for the Fifth Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum, being held March 29-31, 2009, at the Baltimore Convention Center. New for 2009 are special sessions addressing healthcare convention management, medical-device meetings, co-promotion meetings, and incentive travel.
The 2009 forum will also introduce more networking opportunities than ever before, including an executive think tank, a speed networking session, and roundtables on corporate social responsibility, green meetings, work/life balance, and more.
The conference is co-organized by Medical Meetings and the Center for Business Intelligence. For more information or to register, go to: www.pharmameetingplanners.com.