Top Cities for Medical Meetings

By Monica Compton, CMP, June 20, 2015

Most meetings, no matter what industry, share the same basic planning components. The majority of planners want ample airlift, affordable F&B and budget-friendly room rates regardless of what type of meeting they’re planning. Medical meetings, however, have an additional layer of complexity due to government and corporate restrictions on attendee spending. To address these differences, the Convention Industry Council developed the CMP-HC designation at the end of 2013 for planners who must possess a specific arsenal of skills and knowledge to orchestrate medical meetings. From stateside to abroad, the following are cities medical planners prefer, what makes them special and why they work well for their respective companies.

Colleen McQuone

President of Meeting and Event Services, McQ1 Meetings

Michelle Bartolone, CMP-HC

CEO, Meeting Sites Pro Inc.

Val Eyssen, CMP

Corporate Meeting Manager, Thommen Medical

Sallie Folwell

Convention and Meetings Planner, Independent Medical Co-Op Inc.

Lynne Tiras, CMP

President, International Meeting Managers

Kerri Burns, CMP-HC

Manager of Meetings and Events, Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Medical meeting planners must consider many factors when determining the best cities for their programs. Price is usually the first consideration, from the cost of F&B to the room rate and room rental fees. Access to major airports and drivability for local attendees is a close second. “We consider where the majority of our health care providers will be coming from, depending on whether it is a regional or national meeting, and whether this city will be convenient,” McQuone says.

She also looks at the city’s facilities from a technology perspective. “Are they up to speed on the latest technology?” McQuone asks. “Are the sales and catering people familiar with medical groups, and what can and cannot be done from a compliance standpoint?”

McQuone says it’s important to start the planning process by informing your sales contact of limitations or constrictions you have up front. “For instance, if you are conducting a clinical trial advisory board and cannot have a competitor in the hotel, let the hotel know this while performing a site visit at the property so they can see who else has contracted with them,” McQuone says. “Also, they need to know what your maximum F&B spend is per attendee. Some hotels [may be ruled out] because their prices are just too high.”

It’s more important than ever for medical meeting planners to start a dialogue with meeting venues and build relationships with sales and conference services teams. “If you can help them understand these restrictions are not just your company’s rule but a compliance mandate all planners have to follow, they may be more willing to work with you,” McQuone says.

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