Medical companies and associations prefer to work with experienced highly professional event managers who have a proven track record in the industry – one which is based on reputation, transparency, trust and an understanding of the market needs. With this in mind, it is important that event managers have a good understanding of what the conference outcomes and the delegate needs are. “There are specific rules, regulations and guidelines that need to be adhered to, specifically with regard to handling of delegates,” says Mandy Elliott, owner of Meetings Management Services International.
From professors and doctors to allied personnel, medical conferences attracts a variety of professionals, both from the private and public sector, which require an efficient and professional approach. “Delegates are demanding in that they have limited time and therefore do not want to attend meetings unless the programme is well designed and the speakers are intellectually attractive,” says Sue McGuinness, director: Medical Division of Europa Organisation Africa.
BREAKAWAY ROOMS A MUST
Depending on the objectives of an event, breakaway rooms will be needed for delegates. “Medical conferences always have many parallel running sessions and special interest groups and multiple conference rooms and breakaways are required as a result,” says Stephanie Moss, MD of Stephanie Moss Solutions. Breakaway rooms also allow for hands-on training sessions and new equipment demonstrations. All venues should be spacious and modern enough to allow for the vent to run efficiently.
The use of interactive technology is extremely useful at medical conferences as these events are a learning experience for delegates. McGuinness states that feedback is necessary from delegates and the following devices and technology can be used: iPads, keypad technology and smartphone apps. She adds: “Videoconferencing is becoming popular due to cost saving and enables committees to cost-effectively facilitate live case studies and the use of high-level international speakers.”
For Moss, opening cocktails and farewell dinners are a must. Entertainment at these functions should not be too formal or over-bearing, as delegates prefer to enjoy networking and relaxation time with colleagues and friends. “Musical performance, comedy acts or even just background music work well as entertainment,” says McGuinness. However, not all medical conferences allow for entertainment. This is the case for Elliott. Her clients have specific requirements that allow for only lunches and dinners. It is therefore important to always know what your client’s requirements are.
Each medical conference will have its own unique challenges. McGuinness advises that the committee and chairperson should be proactive and respond timeously to emails and also to keep to the schedule of prepared timelines and deadlines. She adds: “Medical professionals are very busy and they require a professional and experienced company to support them with the daily tasks to ensure that the planning for the event runs smoothly and that the experience is enjoyable for all involved.”