Pharma Meeting Planners Forum Day 1: Demographics

We got off, I think, to a really good start this morning with a couple of excellent talks by a pharma CEO and a pharma chief counsel, both of whom not just had some interesting things to say, but also made us laugh. But first, we asked a series of demographic questions of the crowd with an audience response system. Not surprisingly, almost half of the audience was composed of suppliers (we tried to keep it at a 1:1 ratio so planners wouldn't be too overwhelmed with hoteliers and others vying for their attention). The next largest group, at 21 percent, was pharma meeting planners, followed by independents at 19 percent, and medical education company people at 9 percent (the rest were "others," like me). I was surprised to see that 48 percent of delegates also had been in their current jobs only 1-5 years, and the percentage dropped as the number of years in their current positions went up (23 percent had the job for 6-10 years; 22 percent 11-20 years; and 7 percent more than 20 years).

The most-often planned type of meeting was sales at 32 percent, with investigator meetings following at 20 percent, and advisory board meetings at 17 percent. Forty-two percent of the planners said they expected their budgets to increase in 2007; 24 percent thought it would decrease; and 34 percent said it would stay the same next year. Not surprisingly, the final approval over the meeting budget for 64 percent was the sales and marketing department; surprisingly, at least to me, was that the meeting planning department came in next at 17 percent (followed by procurement at 15 percent, and regularly/legal at 3 percent). Seventy-four percent of the pharma planners here said they outsourced some or all of their meeting planning services.

The biggest challenge they said they faced was short lead times (31 percent), with dealing with procurement coming in a distant second at 16 percent. Ten percent said it was regulatory compliance, 13 percent said it was demonstrating the value of the work they do, and 16 percent said it was decreasing budgets. Only 5 percent said it was negotiating contracts, and only 3 percent said it was site selection, which I found interesting because last year, there were lots of site selection-related questions being raised.

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