Meetings: Meetings 101 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Meetings: Meetings 101
When it comes to pharma events, the devil is in the details.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Stay on site. The contract should also guarantee that if the hotel overbooks, none of the meeting's attendees will be placed at alternate facilities. That eliminates extra transportation fees for your company and "lost" attendees who may not make it to the meeting.

Eliminate distractions. Speakers should not have to compete with jazz bands, and the audience's attention should not be taxed by distractions. Specify that meeting and function spaces will not adjoin another conference with amplified or extensive audiovisual presentations. Construction projects can cause similar headaches—inquire if there is construction scheduled inside or outside the property during the meeting.

Own your space. The contract should also contain a clause requiring notice and right of refusal if competitive or conflicting groups attempt to book an event at the same time and place. Pharma executives are particularly aware of the risks of pirating proprietary information.

Early set-up. Finally, the contract should stipulate that all spaces will be completely set up no later than one hour prior to each scheduled function. Specify all function space by name in the contract and state that nothing should be changed without prior approval or after meeting materials have gone to press. That will save reprint costs and the headache of being out of the loop about last-minute changes come meeting time.

Feedback Attendee remarks should focus on the meeting's execution and content rather than its locale and aesthetics. As the industry steers away from high-end resort settings, a hotel's luxury is secondary to the event's overall objectives.

Planners should convey lessons learned from the entire experience at a postmeeting conference with the in-house (or outsourced) team as well as the site staff. This is the time to address any issues that arose during the event that will be reflected in the facility billing. And any feedback the facility staff can offer will improve the planning of future meetings.

It's no mystery that conducting successful meetings involves intense and rigorous planning and organization. Activities need to be meticulously managed and controlled; all stakeholders need to be involved from start to finish. So get back to basics and take the time to plan for the unraveling of every loose end—success may be just a detail away.

Melissa R. Dull is vice-president of P.S. Solutions. She can be reached at

Lynnell R. Wakley is president of P.S. Solutions. She can be reached at


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