Key Standards and Diversity & Inclusion Considerations for Your Next Pharma, Healthcare, or Biotech Meeting

Key Standards and Diversity & Inclusion Considerations for Your Next Pharma, Healthcare, or Biotech Meeting

Navigating Essential Standards and Diversity & Inclusion Guidelines in Pharma, Healthcare, and Biotech

In 2024, event organizers in the Pharma, Healthcare, and Biotech sectors must understand the importance of standards and diversity and inclusion considerations for their events – and even more crucially, they must know how to apply the rules and guidance. With 27% of Americans having a disability, whether physical, cognitive, sensory, or another condition, it’s vital that you’re up to speed with the latest accessibility guidance for events and meetings in these industries.

But navigating healthcare standards and diversity and inclusion for meetings can feel overwhelming – particularly if prioritizing these concerns for the first time. The good news is that once you have familiarized yourself with the regulations and expectations around accessibility, diversity, and inclusion, it’ll soon become second nature to build it into your plans.

Below, we’ll explore some of the most important considerations for your next meeting, ensuring it’s accessible, safe, and enjoyable for all.

Ensuring Accessibility: Accommodating Disabilities in Your Meeting

Regardless of your audience, it’s vital that you consider accessibility regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to keep attendees safe and feeling welcome in your event space.

Anyone organizing an event or meeting should refer to the ADA website for comprehensive guidance. As a high-level overview, areas you’ll need to consider include:

  • Making accessibility aids available, such as closed captioning, sign language interpreters, and assistive listening devices
  • Selecting venues that are accessible for attendees with mobility limitations, such as those with wheelchair ramps, elevators, handrails, and accessible restrooms
  • Providing quiet spaces for attendees who may experience sensory sensitivity to allow them to take a breather in a calm environment
  • Including trigger warnings for especially sensitive topics (when in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution)
  • Complying with ADA regulations to ensure equal access and opportunities for attendees with all disabilities

Want to learn more about accommodating disabilities at your next event? Check out this blog post for a deeper dive.

Ethical Standards: Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

While it may not initially seem like a matter of inclusivity, avoiding conflicts of interest is very important when you’re looking to maintain a diverse, inclusive meeting environment.

Ethical meeting organizers should disclose any speaker relationships with vendors or hosts to mitigate bias concerns. For instance, if a speaker has a financial interest in the topic they’re speaking about, or a presenter works closely with the host organization outside the public eye, it is best to declare this upfront.

Organizers should also make it clear that overt marketing or promotion of products and services during educational sessions is strongly discouraged. If your audience is there to learn, they won’t appreciate being sold to.

Finally, avoid offering excessive compensation or gifts to attendees (or speakers) that could be seen as inducements. A gift bag containing some branded merchandise is likely to be acceptable, but offering $1,000 gifts to attendees is a very different matter. In industries such as pharmaceuticals, this also applies to hospitality in the form of HCP meal caps.

Safety Measures: Planning for Emergencies

For any event or meeting, the safety of attendees, speakers, and staff must come first. You may think that this is the sole responsibility of the venue, but everyone should know what to do in an emergency.

Familiarize yourself with the location of emergency equipment, such as AEDs and first aid kits, and ensure you know who the venue’s first aid and fire personnel are and how you can contact them in an emergency. If possible, consider having medical personnel, such as a doctor, nurse, or EMT on site – particularly for large, busy events.

You should also establish evacuation routes and communication plans for various emergency scenarios, and ensure all event staff are familiar and comfortable with them. At the start of your event, don’t forget to point out emergency exits and assembly points and tell attendees what to do in an emergency.

Health and Wellness: Supporting Inclusive Meeting Practices

Looking after the health and well-being of your attendees is essential for any inclusive meeting. Many event organizers don’t go beyond taking dietary requirements, but there’s plenty more you can do to ensure you’re creating an inclusive environment for all attendees.

Offering healthy meals and snacks, which adhere to allergy and dietary requirements, should be a given for any event. That usually means collecting requirements in advance and liaising with the caterers to ensure a suitable menu can be created and to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination. You should also keep a list of all key allergens in each dish to ensure everyone can consume their meals safely.

Build regular breaks into your agenda to allow attendees to walk, stretch, or simply get some fresh air. Nobody will be at their best being shut in one room all day, so giving people a chance to move around will help everyone be more comfortable and stay engaged throughout the day.

While the height of the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind us, many in-person sanitation and hygiene standards have remained, and many attendees may still want to take extra precautions at busy events. Provide contactless registration, sanitation stations with antibacterial gel and wipes, and remind attendees that they are welcome to wear a mask if they feel more comfortable.

Also, consider the needs of nursing women. Provide a safe, secure space for women who may need to pump to ensure you’re being as inclusive as possible.

HIPAA Compliance: Ensuring Privacy and Inclusion in Meetings

If you’re in the biomedical or pharmaceutical space, you must ensure you’re complying with HIPAA regulations or face fines and other penalties.

HIPAA is all about protecting patient data and ensuring privacy. If you’re hosting your meeting online, use secure virtual meeting platforms and disable recording features to prevent data breaches. If the session must be recorded, ensure the recording is stored in a secure folder, ideally password-protected to prevent unauthorized access.

Requiring confidentiality agreements, or NDAs, for outside presenters or attendees will also help you keep sensitive information safe. For the sake of ease and to track all completed agreements, consider distributing these online ahead of the meeting, or allow attendees to review and complete the agreement on a device when they register at the meeting.

In terms of content, avoid sharing identifiable patient information wherever possible, and instead use hypothetical cases or fully anonymized patient case studies.

A combination of these tactics will help you ensure you comply with HIPAA regulations and keep patient data safe and secure.

Want to ensure your next meeting ticks all the boxes for safety, diversity, and inclusion?

AMI’s meeting experts would love to help – book a meeting with us today for guidance. Contact American Meetings today.
Creating Inclusive Corporate Meetings: Prioritizing Accessibility for All

Creating Inclusive Corporate Meetings: Prioritizing Accessibility for All

Key Considerations for Inclusive Meeting Planning

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an important law protecting the rights of people with disabilities, as well as preventing discrimination against them.

It’s an important rule for meeting and event organizers to understand, as it means you must take the necessary steps to accommodate disabilities in your meetings to ensure they’re inclusive and can be attended by everyone who wants or needs to come.

Before you organize your next event, let’s take a look at some of the key ADA considerations to make sure your meeting is safe, compliant, and inclusive for everyone.

Offer support for hearing-impaired attendees 

Deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees are often overlooked in event planning, meaning they can struggle to get the maximum value out of your event or feel excluded from certain activities.

Think holistically about the needs of your hearing-impaired attendees by considering what they might need throughout the event. This includes closed captioning for video feeds, sign language interpreters (either provided by your organization or allowing attendees to bring their own at no additional cost), or assistive listening devices, such as hearing loops or FM systems, that transmit sound directly to hearing aids or headphones.

Another consideration is your seating arrangements. If an attendee is hard of hearing, they may prefer to sit at the front of the venue close to the presenters, or near a speaker to help them avoid background noise.

Choose accessible venues

Accessibility should always be a consideration when making your event venue selection. This includes things like wheelchair ramps, elevators, accessible restrooms, accessible parking, and suitably wide doorways to allow access to mobility equipment, such as scooters or wheelchairs.

For visually impaired or blind attendees, ensure there are suitable railings around the venue, and that signs and important information are available in braille. Ahead of the event, check that the lighting is sufficient for navigating around the venue, and that there are no trip hazards, such as cables or uneven flooring.

Many venues are becoming more aware of attendees with sensory sensitivities who may need quiet spaces to take a break from noise, crowds, and busy environments. A designated room to allow attendees to take a breather will help accommodate these guests, and providing earplugs or noise-canceling headphones will help you go the extra mile.

Provide content or trigger warnings

Think carefully about whether the content of your event, or any of the specific sessions, contains topics some could find sensitive or triggering. “Triggering topics” can vary greatly, but could include discussions around health (including mental health), politics, current affairs, crime, violence, or graphic content.

It’s better to include a trigger warning that isn’t needed than to not include one and hope for the best, so err on the side of caution if you believe your event’s content could veer into triggering territory. This will likely mean carefully reviewing all event materials, including presentations, talk tracks, and printed materials, to ensure that attendees are aware of any potentially sensitive content.

These content warnings should be provided ahead of the event, such as on the registration page or in your event promotion emails, as well as on the day before any sessions your attendees could find triggering, giving them the option to step out if they prefer not to be exposed to certain topics.

Comply with all ADA regulations

All event organizers in the US must adhere to ADA regulations to avoid falling foul of the law and to offer attendees an inclusive, enjoyable, and safe event experience.

The ADA website provides a comprehensive overview of everything an event organizer will need to consider, but the key areas to think about before your next event include:

  • ADA scope – The ADA applies to all events and venues that are open to the public, including conferences and trade shows
  • Accessibility requirements – Event organizers must ensure that events are accessible to people with disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations, which may involve making physical modifications to the event space
  • Venue selection – Event organizers must select venues that are accessible to people with disabilities
  • Attendee communication – Promotional materials, signup forms, and event signage must be accessible to people with disabilities, whether this is ensuring web content is compatible with screen readers, providing printed materials in braille, or including closed captions on video content
  • Service animals – Event organizers must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into events, such as medical alert dogs or guide dogs

For more practical advice on adhering to the ADA’s guidelines, take a look at the MPI’s ADA guide for meeting and event planning.

If you’re looking for help adhering to ADA guidelines for your next event or meeting, help is at hand!

We have 20+ years of experience organizing ADA-compliant events for companies throughout America, so our team of meeting professionals would love to help you get it right.

Contact us today to find out how we can help.

Ensuring a Seamless Stay: Navigating Hotel Availability for Your Next Healthcare Meeting

Ensuring a Seamless Stay: Navigating Hotel Availability for Your Next Healthcare Meeting

Navigating hotel availability for pharma and other healthcare events in 2023 requires a strategic approach, given the changing landscape of the event industry. Now that in-person events are back, 41% of pharma, biotech and medical devices companies have increased spending on professional conferences. With such substantial investments, it’s crucial to make the most of your hotel bookings. Here’s how to do it:

Embrace Flexibility

Recognize that the hotel landscape in 2023 may not be as accommodating as it was in the past. Did you know that around 60% of sales meetings are held in primary tier cities? To increase your chances of finding a suitable venue, be open-minded about your event’s location and consider exploring secondary-tier cities, which offer good connectivity and amenities at a more reasonable cost.

Negotiation Power

With the current market conditions, event organizers have more negotiating power. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need! On average, companies save around 15% on hotel expenses through skillful negotiations. Request better rates, upgraded hospitality packages, or specific conference rooms.

Consider signing multi-year contracts with hotel chains to secure your preferred dates over several years, increasing your negotiating power. If your pharma or healthcare company has a master service agreement (MSA) with any hotels and venues, prioritize these when facilitating the contracting terms and contracting process.

Plan Ahead

For bigger events such as national sales meetings, aim to book your event at least 4 to 6 months ahead to secure the best venues and dates. For internal meetings such as advisory boards, speaker trainings, or investigator meetings, 45 to 60 days in advance is ideal.

However, if time is limited, don’t worry! There are experts who can help you find suitable hotels for events on shorter notice. On average, event planners spend around 20% of their time sourcing venues. Reach out to corporate event authorities like American Meetings to assist in sourcing last-minute venues.

Non-U.S. Events

For events outside of the U.S., explore options beyond major cities. Smaller cities can offer unique character and amenities, making them attractive alternatives. Additionally, consider the currency exchange rate to maximize your budget. Opting for countries with favorable rates can help stretch your resources further. 

These valuable tips for navigating hotel availability are applicable to a wide range of pharmaceutical gatherings. Whether you’re organizing regional conferences, product launches, training sessions, or international symposiums, the same strategic approach applies. However, make sure to be mindful of any regulations and restrictions specific to your type of meeting. For instance, if the attendees are healthcare professionals (HCPs), compliance with the Sunshine Act regulations is crucial. By incorporating these insights into your event planning toolkit, you can ensure a smooth and impactful experience for any pharmaceutical gathering in 2023 and beyond.

Remember, your event is a significant investment, so make it count! If you’re searching for the perfect hotel venue, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of experts like the AMI meeting specialists. With our strong relationships with major hotel brands’ national sales offices, we’ll make sure to deliver an ideal venue that aligns perfectly with your event’s vision and requirements. Leave the logistics to us while you focus on crafting an unforgettable experience for your pharmaceutical and HCP attendees. Get ready to host a truly remarkable event in 2023 and beyond!

How to Staff an Amazing Events Team

How to Staff an Amazing Events Team

As the event host, you’ll play a major role in planning and managing the event, and you’ll have your hands in every aspect of operations from beginning to end.  That said, no one is an island, and you can’t expect to pull off a truly spectacular meeting or convention without a bit of assistance.

You’re going to need a reliable team of experts to manage the various facets of transforming your vision into a successful event.  You need coverage for areas where you have no expertise.  Even if you’re organized and you have a big-picture mentality, you might not know a lot about logistics, technology, décor, customer service, or other integral aspects of making your event a success.

This is where an amazing events team comes into play.  With the right staff on hand to pick up the slack, you can delegate essential tasks to professionals who can handle them, leaving you free to focus on the aspects of planning and managing an event that fall in your wheelhouse.  Here are just a few of the key positions you’ll want to populate with qualified individuals.

Convention Planner

Even though you have the ultimate say in how planning progresses as the host of the event, a professional convention planner can help you to get all of your ducks in a row.  Those who specialize in meeting and event services can help you nail down the details for every aspect of event planning, from branding and promotion, to attendee recruitment and registration, to presentations and technologies, to vendor discovery and contract negotiation, to overall management and follow-up.

Says Tessa Cameron VP of Strategic Sourcing at AMI, “Think of your convention planner as the foundation for a successful event, the base that all the other pieces of your team are built on top of.  This is the first person you’ll want to bring on board when you’re planning an event.  This is the person who can help you put together all the pieces.”

You’ll also need administrators to head up different areas of the event planning and management process.  These professionals will report to you and your event organizer and take some duties off your plate.

Creative Coordinator

Your convention planning team will consist not only of people who handle logistics, but also those who come up with innovative design ideas suitable for your brand and your event.  The creative team will be involved with marketing and promotions for your event, brand imaging at every level (website and social media, as well as print materials at the event), media for presentations, and design and décor for your event.

Everything from event maps, to logos, to banners and kiosks could fall to the creative coordinator and his/her team to create.  Although you’re likely to have some ideas about the design process and your event organizer will probably have suggestions, as well, you really need a creative team in place to bring your vision to life.

Tech Director

There’s no denying the importance of technology in modern day events.  Event the simplest meetings and presentations will benefit from audio/visual elements, and you can use technology in ever-increasing ways to improve logistics, engage your audience, and add convenience to every facet of your event.

Your technical director can help you not only determine which technologies are suitable for your event, but also how to implement upgrades and even find partners in creating custom software or apps for your events.  Whether you want to set up kiosks with tablets featuring interactive displays or you plan to provide all event info and an easy means of event registration via app, you’re going to need a professional that understands the benefits and challenges of working technology into your events.


Head of Security

You might not necessarily have to hire this important team member – many venues that host big events already have their own security staff in place or they outsource to a local provider for security details.  If you happen to have an experienced security professional on staff that you trust, he/she can act as a liaison with on-site security personnel to create a plan than ensures safety for event attendees.  Your convention planner can also help you to find security experts as needed.


Event Organizer Recommendations

If you’re relatively new to event planning or you’re hosting an event overseas (where laws and expectations are different), you might not even know what types of people you’re going to need to pull off your event.  The good news is that an expert event organizer has the knowledge to guide you through and a network of contacts to tap into for assistance or advice.

Beautiful Event Design: 6 Essential Elements

Beautiful Event Design: 6 Essential Elements

You might think the hardest part of planning any event is choosing the location, but as it turns out, location isn’t everything – it’s only the beginning.  Once you’ve nailed down the venue, it’s time to get to work filling the space with exhibits, signage, décor, and more to wow attendees and create an engaging and memorable experience.  Before you stack your itineraries at the registration desk and welcome event attendees, you and your event organizer need to outfit your space with appropriate design elements.

Says Chelsea Litos, VP Account Management at AMI, “The design elements you choose will need to compliment your space, support your branding, create a mood, and provide a visually appealing atmosphere that creates a lasting impression for guests.  With the right elements, you can deliver an immersive experience that begs to be shared.”

The last thing you want is for event attendees to be bored by your décor.  Part of getting it right is staying true to your brand, while another factor revolves around understanding your audience.  However, when you consider the elements of design, you have the opportunity to build a cohesive and compelling look from the ground up.  Here are the essential design elements you and your convention planner should focus on when crafting your event.


Nail Down the Color Scheme with Your Convention Planner

Your color scheme may be drawn from an existing palette that coincides with your company branding, but you may also want to brand your event, and choosing the right color scheme can set an immediate and enduring tone for attendees.  If, for example, you want to create a feeling of ethereal other-worldliness with a clean, bright palette, you might go with a tone-on-tone motif featuring shades of white, ecru, and eggshell.  Or you might add touches of pastel hues to compliment the space.

If a more modern aesthetic is the order of the day, adding bright pops of candy-colored hues could create a feast for the eyes.  Perhaps you want an edgy, futuristic vibe with dark, metallic tones or you’d rather create exotic appeal with rich, saturated jewel tones.  The colors you and your convention planner choose will inform the mood of attendees from the moment they enter the space, so choose colors that elicit the right emotions.


Don’t Neglect Texture

Texture is an often-underused design element when it comes to events, but you should know that mixing textures can help to bolster your aesthetic and create a more attractive presentation overall.  Appealing to tactile sensation with visual elements can enhance the experience for event attendees.

Layer on hard, soft, shiny, rough, rustic, and other textures to provide a landscape that is both visually stunning and that begs to be touched, catching the eye and the imagination.  Adding a variety of textures can only help to make your event space more immersive.  Don’t forget, you can also fake texture with pattern.


Visualize a Marriage of Lines

Your event space itself will have built-in lines that are horizontal and vertical, at the very least, although you might also find yourself dealing with diagonal lines, as well as those that are dynamic (curved, for example).  Whether you and your event organizer decide to mimic existing lines in your design or work against them, it’s important to be aware of the lines in your space so you can make a conscious decision about how you install the lines of your design, from backdrops and rugs to furniture and other décor.


See How Shapes Fit into Your Space

The shapes you choose and the way you arrange them can have an impact on how people approach your space.  For example, if you add a lounge space with groupings of plush couches and chairs, you’ll invite attendees to sit and socialize, perhaps having extensive conversations.  If you only add cocktail tables near a bar, you may still spur conversation, but guests won’t necessarily be inclined to relax or stay long – they may be more likely to drift through and meet more people briefly.


Adjust the Size of Elements

You and your convention planner can create focal points or emphasize elements of design by simply adjusting the size.  Take a page from famed sculpture artist Claes Oldenburg by blowing up object to enormous size – see popular pieces like Lipstick (Ascending), Clothespin, and Binoculars Building for examples.


Add Lighting with the Help of Your Event Organizer

Lighting may not technically be an element of design, but how you and your event organizer use it to highlight your space can contribute to or detract from your overall design, so it bears consideration.  It can influence mood, draw attention, and add unexpected flair to your design, helping to boost visual appeal and make your event a success.

The Impact and Effect of Meeting Space Design

The Impact and Effect of Meeting Space Design

People are creatures of habit, even if they don’t always understand the instinctual nature of their habits.  If you are a student of human behavior, though, you can gain some insight into how people are likely to react to certain settings and situations.

If you’ve ever been on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland, you know what happens when the doors of the elevator first open and people crowd inside.  The first ones in head for the walls and line them, then subsequent rows fill in until people finally fill the room.  Nobody goes to the center of the room until forced there.  This has something to do with survival instinct.  Nobody wants to feel exposed when surrounded by strangers.

What does this have to do with planning meetings and events with event management services professionals?  It can help you to plan a layout and design your space with specific goals in mind, such as putting attendees at ease and creating opportunities for interaction.


Plan Your Layout for Your Purpose

Your event is sure to have a slate of planned activities, from speakers and panels, to workshops and networking opportunities, to exhibit halls and interactive game stations, just for example.  For each activity you present to attendees, you should turn to experienced professionals at corporate event planning companies to create an appropriate layout.

For example, an event featuring a speaker will require everyone to face toward the main attraction, and this could be best accomplished by orienting rows of chairs to face a stage.  This isn’t the only option, though.  You could also create a theater-in-the-round type setting to increase engagement and a feeling of intimacy.

Says Tessa Cameron, VP of Strategic Sourcing at AMI, “With careful planning, you can meet multiple goals with your layout.  Do you want people to focus on a speaker?  Do you want them to interact with each other?  Do you want to support group participation?  Your layout can contribute in a big way to accomplishing your goals if you take the time to consider what different layouts are likely to yield in terms of audience reaction.”


Consult with Corporate Event Planning Companies on How to Create a Mood

There are so many logistical concerns to consider when planning an event, not to mention the burden of creating relevant, timely, and engaging content.  As a result, creating a mood and ambience for your event could fall low on your list of priorities.  However, working with experts from corporate event planning companies to develop a suitable atmosphere for your event is important.

It can not only create a more immersive and engaging experience, but it can help to put attendees at ease, add cohesion to disparate activities, and set expectations for the event as a whole.  Your event management services partners can lend their expertise to the process.


Work on Branding and Theme with Your Event Management Services Pro

Your event space design includes more than furniture and mood lighting – it also entails décor, and corporate event planning companies can help you to come up with ways to add cohesive messaging and design elements to every facet of your event.  With the right décor, you and your event management services partners can unify the entire event while embracing a theme and reinforcing branded messaging throughout.