Picture it: A weekday evening in the mahogany-paneled lobby of the El San Juan Hotel in Puerto Rico. A hotel where just that
afternoon you attended a highly professional multi-media presentation in a sedate, well-appointed meeting room.
Puerto Rico Convention center
A salsa band starts to play. The music is such it seems everyone in the lobby is suddenly up and moving to the Latin beat—swirling
forward and backwards, swiveling and spinning across the rose-colored marble floor. And before you know it, you are, too.
The business meeting is long forgotten. And for the first time in years, you are dancing with your heart instead of your feet.
Welcome to Puerto Rico, a destination whose motto should be Andre Gide's famous caveat: "Don't try to understand me too quickly."
At a Glance: The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau
Just when you think you've got the place nailed—OK, it is an exotic island in the Caribbean complete with beautiful beaches;
a charming, historic capital; Spanish forts; a rain forest; fantastic music and casinos—there's a kicker: Yes, but it's also
an island wired for business. An island where 16 of the 20 top-selling pharmaceuticals are manufactured; where $30 billion
worth of pharmaceutical products are shipped globally each year; where in four years more than $4 billion has been invested
in biotechnology by such companies as Abbott, Lilly, and Amgen; where a $3 billion Knowledge Corridor, a flagship project
that includes the new Puerto Rican Cancer Center, is in development.
PHARMA AND MEETINGS INTERSECT
Growing alongside the bioisland initiative is the meetings and conventions industry, a specialty market that contributes $900
million annually to the local economy.
At the heart of the industry is the three-year-old Puerto Rico Convention Center. Designed by the award-winning firm Thompson,
Ventulett, Stainback and Associates—along with local architect Jimenez-Rodriguez Barcelo—the Center is visually dramatic (shaped
overall to suggest a wave), accommodating, and the most technologically advanced center in the Caribbean.
And at the heart of the Convention Center is the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting
and attracting meeting and convention business to the island—and to making meeting planners' lives as easy as possible.
Condado Hotel District
For a certain type of pharma meeting, one where destination and hotel property is the focus (say, a product launch motivation
meeting for your sales force), it's considered a smart choice to enlist the aid of a city's convention bureau. A bureau can
function as the consummate insider, a team that can help coordinate and implement all elements of a meeting program—from dealing
with hotels and providing promotional materials to organizing parties and other special events.
In Puerto Rico, the Convention Bureau has the added attraction of being pharma savvy and having extensive knowledge of regulatory
and security requirements for a pharma meeting.
Convention Center Lobby
To find out more about what the bureau and Puerto Rico have to offer, Pharmaceutical Executive met with Ramón Sánchez, executive vice president and COO of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, on a recent afternoon in Puerto
Rico. Sánchez spoke on a range of topics: