Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 29 2013

3 Questions Meeting Planners Need to Answer Now

By Michelle Crowley, Manager, Global Development

As medical meeting planners around the world continue to work to determine the future of the industry, PCMA united 35 planners and medical association CEOs from eight countries in London last week for the first-ever PCMA Global Medical Meetings Summit. The international idea exchange helped participants from Europe and North America understand the unique issues and restrictions that exist in each country.

While it’s clear that many challenges are unique to the medical world, the program produced some strong insights into how to deliver more value to attendees and exhibitors - regardless of your audience. As you look toward the meetings of tomorrow, here are three questions to answer today.

SEE ALSO: The Future of Medical Meetings

1)  What kind of knowledge is your meeting delivering?

Not all knowledge gives you power.

Magnus Lindkvist, trendspotter, futurist and acclaimed author, kicked off the summit and focused on the reality that everyone is overloaded with information. While your meeting aims to deliver more information and education, not all knowledge is equal. Articulate knowledge isn’t very valuable anymore. Why? Because your attendees can get it anywhere. Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in attracting and inspiring your audience. This is the knowledge that needs to be shared and experienced live and in-person. It creates an emotional connection, and it can’t simply be found online.

2)  Is your organization competing or creating?

Healthcare professionals have lots of choices.

They can earn continuing education credits via a number of face-to-face and virtual opportunities, and they can choose from a wide range of professionals societies and associations. While your meeting and your organization each has plenty of competitors, Lindkvist highlighted that competing is simply aiming to produce the same product at a more affordable cost. In the meetings industry, we don’t want to price to be the primary distinction between different experiences. That’s why meeting planners must focus on the process of creating - - developing new and innovative ideas to help our audience members discover the unexpected. It’s what will excite attendees and keep them coming for more year after year.

3)  How is your meeting leveraging data?

Data is a four-letter word with an unlimited possibilities.

Many participants at the summit commented that data collection can be a touchy subject with current members and shared concerns that their members might get upset about using RFID to track their on-site activities.

While some seasoned attendees may be hesitant about data, it can go a long way in helping associations create more valuable experience for their members. Deborah Sexton, President & CEO, PCMA, highlighted that potential privacy issues can be resolved by simply being upfront about how the data will be used. From suggesting which sessions to attend to uniting like-minded attendees for sharing best practices to recommending new relevant technologies on the exhibit floor, all that data can really tailor a meeting to each attendee’s individual needs and preferences.

SEE ALSO: The Risks and Rewards of Big Data

Stay tuned for more insights from the inaugural program in the coming weeks.

A big thank you to ExCeL London, London & Partners, Grange Hotels, Delta Airlines and Sky Team, Leith’s, GES, Blitz, London Pass and Visit England for a superior example of British hospitality!

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