One neat thing that Pharma Forum’s host, CBI, chose to do with the event, was to create themes for each day. The first day was educate, followed by engage, and empower.
Day 1 started with a warm welcome from Melanie Demakis (Program Director, Pharma Forum 2017, CBI, a division of UMB Life Sciences) and Melissa Fromento (Managing Director, MeetingsNet) in the Embark on Your Pharma Forum Adventure opening session.
Demakis introduced different tools to assist attendees in making the most of their Pharma Forum experience, including meeting technology and contributing to The Ronald McDonald foundation by building a bear in the exhibit hall (of course, I had to try this out).
Fromento walked us through a little background of the attendees at Pharma Forum stating that attendees had come from 21 different countries (I met delegates from China, Italy, and Sweden!) 46% of the audience were new to Pharma Forum.
Monica Dickenson (CMP, SMMC Head, Global Meetings and Events, Shire), opened the event with a bang, utilizing some brain teasers (here's one that got a laugh!) to prepare us for the first day’s agenda, educate.
Ryan Mazon, (SVP, Business Development, Educational Measures, LLC) then introduced, EM Array ™, the technology that would be supporting a number of talks, including the general sessions.
Jocelyn Côté (SMMC, Global Managing Director, American Express Business Travel) tackled the topic of the global world of meetings and current events’ effects on them in her discussion, Shaping Our Future – Execute Successful Global Programs and Expand Business Interests Based on 2017 Industry Trends.
Côté started with recapping 2016 events, including Brexit, Trump’s election, terrorist attacks, and the rise of the Zika Virus. She then followed with a discussion about 2017 trends including, “merger and acquisition activity, content is king, mobile applications, and expansion into China.”
She talked about the difficulties associated with expanding a strategic meeting plan internationally, particularly in China. Some of the hurdles included compliance in other countries, linguistics, and outsourced implementation.
Paul Van Deventer (President and CEO, Meeting Professionals International) discussed current trends in the meeting industry in his session Navigate Meeting Management in a World Full of Risk. The main trends he touched on were:
- Market is still healthy and strong
- Planners are being challenged to do more with less
- Hotels may be looking to negotiate more with planners
- The size of meetings are growing but at a slow rate of 1.9%
- Increased number of virtual attendees
- Hybrid meetings are enabling face to face meetings to be more effective
- Legislation changes can impact meeting destination decisions
Compliance, Negotiations, and Tech in Meetings
Michelle Bartolone (CEO, Meeting Sites Pro. Inc./SM Squared) and Ryan Mazon (SVP, Business Development, Educational Measures, LLC) teamed up in the session Develop a Tailored Process for Compliant Meeting Management in which they discussed:
- Meeting types
- Planning tips and negotiation tactics
- Vendor management and relationship building
- Meeting technology options
- Integration of meeting technology
- Compliance issues/concerns
When it comes to planning, Bartolone suggests meeting professionals to, “begin with the end in mind” from “hotel needs to technology.” She illuminated that when we look at the goal, we develop a more strategic, streamlined, and cost effective path to get there. Bartolone expanded this idea to negotiations. She advised that before any contracts are signed with vendors, meeting planners should negotiate while they have leverage rather than waiting until after the fact when terms have already been agreed upon.
Mazon discussed the importance of utilizing this negotiating power when planning for meeting technology. He echoed Bartolone’s message of starting at the end by stating that we should consider what need the meeting technology is intended to fill.
If you didn’t get a chance to make it to this session, check out this clip.
I was able to catch up with both Bartolone and Mazon after the session and get some highlights from the session in the videos below.
After a quick coffee break, I headed over to the Investigator Meetings session hosted by Sonal Humane (Director Meeting Management, Merck).
Humane talked about meeting and presentation content and how vital it is to the success of investigator meetings. “We have to shift the paradigm,” Humane noted as she talked about how investigator meetings must become more than a didactic recitation of information for the audience to retain these important processes.
This proved to be one of the most engaged sessions I’ve seen with discussion about content, meal caps, compliance, and SMM.
Closing Out the Day
After an action-packed day, we ended with a cocktail hour in the exhibit hall, where we made new friends and had some great conversations.