Show Notes

From telling you how to overcome pharma programs' unique challenges to explaining how to stay up to date on compliance changes, Strategic Account Director, Shelley Huez, covers various pharmaceutical event insights in this podcast. Topics include:

  • Types of pharma programs we plan
  • Unique challenges of pharmaceutical events
  • How to stay on top of regulations and compliance requirements
  • Trends to watch for in pharma events

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audience clapping at pharmaceutical event


Hi, and welcome to The Events Experience, where we take a deep dive into everything event planning. I work for Bishop-McCann, an agency devoted to creating JOY through meetings, incentives, and events for big name brands. On this podcast, myself and our company's experts will discuss all things events, so keep listening to hear all about the latest tips and trends for virtual, live, and hybrid events.

Hi, everyone! On this episode of our podcast, we are talking with one of our strategic account directors, Shelley Huez, who works in our pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical vertical. We'll be discussing all things pharmaceutical events from telling you how to overcome pharma program's unique challenges to explaining how to stay up to date on compliance changes. Thank you for joining us, Shelley!

Yeah, thanks for having me! I'm excited to be here and chat about all the things pharma.

Yes, and we are excited to have you! So to start this off, as a company, we focus on three main verticals: pharma, franchise, and commercial. With pharma specifically, there are various kinds of events that can be planned. Can you tell us a little bit about the different types of pharma events we plan here at Bishop-McCann?

Sure. Well, within pharma, there are really three main types of events that break out into one of the following buckets, if you will. So we have our internal meetings, which support the internal attendees of one of our pharma, biotech, or medical clients. Events like sales meetings, national meetings, product launches, POA meetings, regional meetings, etc.

There are also HPC engagements, which include meetings where healthcare professionals are the target audience. A few examples of these types of events include advisory boards, investigator meetings, and speaker training meetings.

And last but certainly not least, we also provide logistics support for our clients at congresses and conventions. So we assist with housing, working through the housing bureaus and the host hotels. We assist with the management of ancillary events and management of standalone events. We also help with elements tied to client sponsorships, like exhibitor badges and coordinating/helping to carry out the items included in their sponsorship packages.

Of course, these are just a few examples of the various types of events. We really do provide an array of support to our clients. I mean, the list could go on and on.

Right, and we know that pharma is very different from our other verticals due to compliance and regulations. But can you elaborate a bit on how we handle pharmaceutical events differently than other events we put on?

Yeah. What differentiates our vertical from others is our pharma team's awareness of and expertise in the regulatory requirements surrounding pharmaceutical and medical business. Our team is extremely well versed in the rules and regulations of pharma, and we certainly follow the code on interactions with healthcare professionals or the pharma code of conduct. You know, always upholding professionalism, ethics, and transparency.

Additionally, many of our teammates have specific credentials in medical meeting planning, such as their Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate or HMCC. The team also participates in industry events like Pharma Forum, MPI, PCMA, and lots of other events. And we're closely working with our clients' internal compliance and legal teams to ensure commitment to our different clients' policies and procedures, as well as understanding that clients have various templates and SOPs in place.

The last thing I would point out is that our planners all actually plan HCP engagements, so everyone on the team is up to speed on the most current trends and guidelines. And one way I like to put this is that we all definitely "talk the talk and walk the walk."

Right. So along with those differences, what are some of the unique challenges that pharma companies face when planning and executing their corporate events?

I wouldn't say it's a challenge necessarily, but more so a unique element of planning for pharma, and that is certainly the scrutiny that is placed on pharma meetings and events. Other business sectors don't have things such as the Sunshine Act, aka the Open Payments Program. So that means that we have had to develop extensive and tried-and-true processes to collect/review/report on data prior to submission to the Open Payments Program and accuracy, transparency, and accountability are always at the forefront of our minds.

So on top of that unique element that you've discussed, how does our team ensure that we stay compliant when planning pharma events? I know that this is a constantly changing industry, so how do we as an agency stay up to date on the latest industry regulations and compliance requirements?

Yeah, and I sort of touched on this a little earlier, but it's in that we hold and renew credentials in the medical meeting planning space. You know, without a doubt, communication is key. So we work in unison with our clients to make certain we're following their specific internal policies and procedures.

Our many years of experience in the industry help to guide us in the right direction because we are asking the right questions, and we know what to look for. And piggybacking on that, we are also collaborating with industry colleagues and clients and participating in industry events. So always keeping our ear to the ground, always learning, collaborating, adapting, and growing.

Right, and so in your own experience, what makes a pharmaceutical event really successful?

So there's a saying, and I might not get this exactly right, but it's along the lines of, "It's often said that the success of anything stems from good planning." And wow, I mean, I could not agree more. So that's why we host so many successful pharma programs. It's really because we have the experience, the fortitude, and the know-how. And when you combine these qualities, we are able to successfully plan and execute pharma meetings over and over again.

Looking to the future a bit, what trends do you see emerging with pharma events, and how do you anticipate that they will shape what we do as event planners?

So future trends we see emerging are discussions surrounding food and beverage pricing and market value. I believe last year in '22, inflation rates - not only in the US but around the world - were the highest they've been in something like the last 40 years. So with these kinds of increases, what now constitutes quote-unquote reasonable food and beverage pricing.

Another thing that has been emerging in our sort of post-COVID world is compression, meaning compression with available hotel rooms and meeting space. As the world began to reopen, so did everyone's desire to travel and meet again face to face. So with millions upon millions of people now traveling and meeting all at once, it created scarcity in available options. So now what best practices do we, as an industry, have to define in order to keep up with a very fast-growing, transient leisure and meetings market? And then how does this increasing compression affect our pharma clients and rate caps, and how does pharma remain compliant in a very competitive market?

And all of those things will definitely be what we look toward as we move into this post-COVID world that we are navigating, as you said.


So to wrap this up, I know that often when people hear "pharmaceutical event," they assume incorrectly that they must just be boring and monotonous. But because we are JOY creators here at Bishop-McCann, can you tell us how we're able to infuse JOY into all of the events that we plan, including pharma programs?

Yes! And you know, I'm laughing like there are many things about pharma planning that can seem precise and ordered. But make no mistake about it, pharma is fun. You know, for internal programs, we're adding those creative and out-of-the-ordinary experiences. By no means will I be able to touch on everything we're doing, but things like infusing creative food and beverage aspects, whether that be in presentation or the types of cuisine. We're using fun props and decor. We're crafting agendas that center around community and collaboration. We're offering experiences that attendees will remember for a lifetime.

As for HCP engagements, we are working with our most important clients' most important clients. So offering that white-glove, personal service with a warm and friendly demeanor and commitment to excellence each and every time.

The JOY really lies in our deep-rooted belief in hospitality, and that's really where our strength has been for over 25 years. I mean, at the end of the day, hospitality is really why we all got into the industry to begin with, right? So there's so much JOY, not only in all of the innovative approaches, but also just in the welcoming reception we give to each and every attendee.

I love that. Thank you so much for joining the podcast to share those excellent insights into the world of pharmaceutical events!

Yeah, this was a lot of fun, and I'm thrilled that we were able to share some of the things that our team loves most about pharma, biotech, and the medical world. It's so interesting because our company founder and a lot of the individuals on our leadership team actually began in pharma planning. So it certainly holds a very special place in our hearts, and happy to report that for the past 25+ years, we've been successfully planning and operating pharma programs of all sizes around the world. So it's really an incredible and unique segment of our industry.

Yes, for sure. And knowing, as you said, that we started our roots in pharma, it's definitely a special vertical to us, just like you said. So thank you, Shelley!

Of course. Yeah, thanks so much!

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The Events Experience. Don't forget to subscribe to our podcast, and create JOY wherever you go!

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