In-Person Medical Meetings are Making a Comeback: 4 Things to Know

  • September 15, 2022
  • by Daniel J. Rehal
  • Continuing Medical Education,Medical Education


The past two years have presented a series of obstacles for hosting events within the biopharma sector, and 2022 has proven to be particularly challenging. Medical communications companies and biopharma companies alike are adapting to a more distributed workforce, mitigating personnel burnout, working to retain top talent, and navigating uncertainty with client demands. At the same time, virtual events are leveling out and demand for in-person events are rebounding.

Here’s what you need to know to navigate through these challenges to train your speakers in person or seek insight from advisors over the next year:

People crave connection and collaboration. The reason the rebound has been so pronounced is since the beginning of the pandemic, 30% of US workers report feeling less deeply and meaningfully connected and 44% say they feel less connected to their colleagues, according to the HOW Institute for Society’s “Human Connection in the Virtual Workplace” study. To address this in what’s become a largely remote environment for collaborating with advisors and speakers, biopharma clients are seeking in-person meetings as important opportunities to ideate with experts, improve education of content, and inspire a sense of community with speakers on bureaus and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) on advisory boards.

Travel costs continue to skyrocket. We’ve all seen summer travel soar, and hotel and airfares have escalated in tandem. CWT and the “Global Business Travel Association’s Global Business Travel Forecast” anticipates an 18.5% increase in the average hotel room rate in 2022 and an additional 8.2% jump in room rates in 2023. Expect even more significant increases in airfare. Airfares on average will rise by an estimated 48.5% in 2022 and an additional 8.5% in 2023. That means that an airfare budget of $100,000 in 2021 will cost $161,122 in 2023 and a hotel budget of $200,000 in 2021 will cost $256,434 in 2023.

Hotels are restructuring their offerings. Not only have costs increased, but the pandemic has altered the way hotels structure some of their offerings relating to staffing models and supply chain issues. This year, many hotels offer a different scope of services than pre-pandemic, including evolving food and beverage options, shorter service hours, changes in room service, housekeeping, restaurant availability, and hours of operating for on-site offerings. These changes require that biopharma clients work with a medical communications partner who understands how to keep the lines of communication open with hotels and airlines.

Event space is at a premium. Most challenging for 2023 will be the limited or nonexistent event space availability. The hotel industry’s demand for in-person meetings has surpassed the 2019 volume. Warmer climates in Florida, Louisiana, Las Vegas, and Arizona were the first to return to accommodate this surge, and now New York, Chicago, and San Francisco are close behind.

With so much happening in the travel space now, what can you do? Our recommendation is to plan as early as you can in order to lock in rates and availability with both flights and hotels. At the same time, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in advisors and speakers wanting to collaborate in person. Seize this opportunity to meet them where they are. There will always be availability if you have flexibility in your destination, but if you’re looking for a particular destination for your in-person meetings in 2023, start now.

About the Author

Daniel J. Rehal, President of Vision2Voice, thoroughly understands the pharmaceutical industry from the ground floor up. By ascending the ranks at Merck to his global responsibilities at Takeda, Dan has significant experience in both marketing and sales roles supporting a multitude of pharmaceutical brands as an award-winning Sales Representative, Training Manager, District Manager, Senior Product Manager, and Marketing Director.

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