Could you give one example of what a green meeting is?
Runzler: A green meeting is using, for the most part, facilities that have numerous standardized processes in place for recycling,
limiting waste, and minimizing the footprint that a meeting may have on the environment. Pharmaceutical meeting planners will
tell us that a facility has to have a certification as a green facility.
Another tend which benefits us specifically is that Orlando, for a long time, has had a reputation, aside from the medical
field, for simulation training. We have a very large industry here related to simulation and training that has begun to attract
the medical industry. Every year in Orlando is a trade show—the International Training Simulation and the Information Community
(ITSIC). This was the first year that it had a section for medicine and healthcare, with 100 exhibitors. So, you see everything
is changing, and growing.
Simulation training means you can actually have a specialist here at a hospital instructing people all around the world by
the use of this technology, actually executing surgical procedures using simulation. For the medical field, this is a primary
In the past two years the biggest growth area for medical meetings, according to SDI data, has been teleconferencing. Has
that impacted you as a physical destination?
Runzler: Almost every major convention hotel now has telecommuting technology in place. And so it has become one more opportunity rather
than a detraction. The destination becomes the hub from which a teleconference can be held and a vehicle to reach out to global
In other words, companies now have an opportunity to opt for either/or— sending someone to attend to meeting, or staying in
the office and watching it.
Runzler: It affords so many options and you still have the kind of meeting industry people expect and brings in value.
Of course, there was a time many years ago, when technology really started moving forward fast and furious and we were concerned
from the meetings industry point of view: What will this mean? But in spite of the wonderful advances in technology and our ability to video broadcast and telebroadcast and expand the
meeting globally, there still is very much that need for face-to-face interaction.
They say meeting face-to-face and networking is in physicians' DNA.
Runzler: It's important for them to be able to mix with their colleagues. Its part of discovery, it excites the mind. We've also seen
meetings across the board to opening up opportunities for a less structured schedule and an opportunity more for just face-to-face
interaction, thought exchange, conversational types of interaction. And I think that's really kept the meetings industry
alive and maybe even more valuable now than it was when it was the typical lecture hall style. It makes it even more intimate,
Marylyn Donahue is Special Projects Editor at Pharmaceutical Executive magazine