Hoteliers’ recommendations for making life sciences HCP meetings a better fit for their business fall into three main categories, according to industry executives who discussed the meal cap survey results in a keynote presentation at the 2017 Pharma Forum, organized by MeetingsNet and CBI and held at Gaylord National Harbor, Md., in March:
1. Be realistic. Allow for higher meal caps in first-tier cities. Ask hoteliers in your host city to send standard menus you can work from. “Become the expert on meal limits for compliance,” said one life sciences planner on the panel. “Show them what it really costs to do a meal in San Francisco,” versus a second- or third-tier city. In a session on compliance, one pharma planner said that she was able to get compliance to raise her company’s per-person reception cap for an event in Chicago from $35 to $65 by showing data she pulled from menus at the venue and local restaurants. “You have to share the data with your stakeholders and show them why it doesn’t work.” Understand that meal-cap restrictions equal basic menu choices—unfortunately they do not always allow for creativity with the menu. “Give us a menu and we will give you a price,” said one hotelier. “Give a price and we will give you a menu.”
And one more thing that will make hoteliers happy? If life sciences companies could set their meal cap policy to include an annual 3 percent to 5 percent increase so it stays in line with hoteliers’ average annual menu price increases. “This helps to ensure that the meal caps aren’t outdated within one or two years after they’ve been adjusted,” said one hotelier.
2. Be flexible. You’ll get better pricing if you let the hotel chef choose items that are seasonal and local. The chef can do a great job for you if you’re willing to cede some control.
Also, if you can provide a daily aggregate F&B allotment, it gives the hotel more ways to meet your budget and provides a better quality of meals through out the day.
3. Be upfront. Have honest discussions about your expectations before the contracting phase.