Recently I attended the 6th Annual Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit. Anytime you attend an industry conference, you hope to get the ROI on your time investment by gaining new insight or learning about new tools; I would say this investment was worth it.
A timely topic that was discussed throughout many sessions is the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines going into effect May 25, 2018, and how it will impact meetings. If you plan programs in Europe, or if you have European participants attending your programs in the United States, it will have an impact.
Initially it sounded daunting; however, after listening and speaking to other peers, it is just another level of compliance we need to incorporate. When the CMS open-payments act reporting began, many of us were overwhelmed by the impact and implementation of that guideline. Now it is simply a part of doing medical meetings. You and your organization need to get up-to-date and current on the GDPR requirements. Once you align with these requirements, it will become just another layer in the planning process.
The next thing that got me excited was augmented reality, and its impact on the meetings industry. As the technology advances and becomes more economical, hotels will be able to produce site inspections using AR technology. The idea of sitting at your desk, getting on-line, and doing a walk-through of a venue that is 2,000 miles away is game changing. The day is coming, and soon.
During the State of the Industry presentation on Day Two I heard optimism. Two indicators I noted: 1. the number of meetings with 1,000+ attendees has grown over the last two years. This is great for those who manage meetings in that range. I interpret it for those who do smaller meetings that you will be called to do larger programs, or there will be the desire for more focused and smaller group meetings. 2. All the world’s modern economies are experiencing growth. This is not the norm. This inspires confidence that meetings of all sizes will continue. We need to remember humans are social beings. We like coming together, and we enjoy being around like-minded individuals. Meetings help us to satisfy those two natural desires.
The last idea that really resonated with me is working with a “partner” versus a vendor. Partner or vendor is just vernacular, right? There is more to it. We all have “preferred vendors” – maybe because we like the sales person. Maybe is it because their pricing is the best. Whatever the reason, ask yourself, “Does that vendor serve as an advisor, share technology updates, or provide solutions to an issue you did not even realize you have?” Or is the vendor an order taker and executer? This is something I am going to be examining as I continue to grow and engage with my “partners.” I will examine how we are helping each other to build a stronger business, ensuring better outcomes for our clients. That type of partnership will benefit both sides, and that is a business relationship I want to have.
Overall, it was a fantastic conference with plenty of opportunities for open dialogue, meeting new faces, and catching up with the industry as a whole. Hope to see you there next year!