Pharma Forum was back this year with a packed schedule of educational sessions. In attendance were team members from BCD M&E's Life Sciences Center of Excellence. With multiple sessions throughout the four day event, Jenna Baker, Vice President Account Management, Life Sciences Center of Excellence and Liz Dodson, Congress Practice Area Lead & Global Account Director, compiled 5 key takeaways from this year's event.
Pharma Forum: What to know now
1. Staffing and Retention
Staffing and retention continues to be a huge focus for suppliers and corporations alike. The conversation at the breakout session hosted by Jenna Baker and Jessica Azoulay brought to light the differences between how meeting planners learned 15 years ago and how they learn now. Many no longer have the benefit of working in the same office as colleagues and leaning over a cubicle to ask a question. In a virtual environment, training is much more challenging and can often take twice as long. Additionally, training must be customized to an employee’s needs, making sure the content is relevant to them and what they are working on. While staffing continues to be a challenge, once new employees come in-house it’s critical to everyone’s success that their onboarding experience is comprehensive.
Jenna Baker and Jessica Azoulay at Pharma Forum 2023
This topic continues to be important but is equally confusing to many. With so many different aspects to consider, often people become overwhelmed. The hoteliers at Pharma Forum reminded attendees that they have the tools and technology in order to measure the carbon footprint of the event's meetings. If you aren’t getting this information readily, just ask and they will happily provide it. Most major brands are part of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance which provides a standardized way to track a meeting’s carbon footprint. This allows meeting planners to compare apples to apples when looking at the carbon impact their meeting will have at different properties.
3. HCPs are just like us.
Two guest speaker HCPs (Health Care Providers) attendees shared that they have the same needs as any other meeting attendee (including those at Pharma Forum). Just like us, they are looking to be educated, feel connected and have their minds and bodies nourished in a healthy way. They also spoke about the value of meeting outdoors, citing that just 30 minutes of sunlight gives your body a major boost. It was a good reminder that if you can have your next break outdoors, or if you can organize a stretch or time to walk, your busy HCP attendees will appreciate it!
4. Most companies’ meal spend caps are nearly impossible to meet in top U.S. cities.
During Liz Dodson's session, it was highlighted that some pharma companies have gone through the process of adjusting their spend guidelines, but many are still working with caps that are over a decade old. It’s important to have a documented exception process and to collect all requested exceptions in a central repository. These data points enable you to look for clear outliers to your current policy, and will substantiate business cases to adjust caps in line with market conditions.
Robert Tegge of ZS, Liz Dodson and Darryl Diamond of Talley Management Group during their panel session.
5. There is a generational shift happening in our industry.
The average meeting attendee generation is going from baby boomer to millennial. Millennials’ perception and valuation of meetings is very different from prior generations, and we will all need to shift to meet their needs/expectations.