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Science or Destination? Which is More Popular to Attract Delegates?

"In a recent survey of over 4,000 delegates," revealed Christian Mutschlechner, of the Vienna Convention Bureau, "when asked what reasons made them attend a conference, the 'destination' did not feature in the top 10 list of answers: science, CME, networking all featured strongly. Therefore the future for attracting healthcare events to a destination is primarily about the exchange of science."

This view was endorsed by both Martin Jensen of H. Lundbeck, representing ICPAA, and Caroline Mackenzie of Congrex Holdings BV, representing IAPCO. "The destination used to be association driven, now it is delegate driven; it is not necessarily the most attractive destination that wins the day but the one that suits the scientific focus of the association and the delegates," said Jensen.

"Capturing content so it can have a longer lifetime and be shared with a wider audience; technology, the way people learn and communicate, social media are all having an effect on the structure of face-to-face medical congresses as well as compliance and regulation," added Mackenzie. "Factors such as globalisation brings a wider demographic audience to events, and their cultural differences need to be understood and catered for."

As for compliance within healthcare meetings, it is the aim of IPCAA to use only EFPIA or IFPMA codes at international events, to avoid the inconsistency in the use of compliance within IPCAA membership companies. Mutschlechner urged convention bureaux to be far more proactive in following the compliance issues and thus to be an active partner for all stakeholders, and to spend time massaging their clients to meet their needs.

"It is the responsibility of the PCOs to understand the changes impacting on medical associations and their congresses from factors such as compliance and regulatory restrictions, stakeholder products going off patent and fewer blockbuster products being launched into the market place etc. PCOs must provide expert advice and a service offering to meet the changes not only for their clients but for all other stakeholders in the chain," said Mackenzie.