The new normal

Stricter data protection, lack of qualified employees, the right choice of venue – these planners tell us all about their greatest challenges of the moment.

Bernd R. Maesse. Photo: Maesse Marketing Consulting.

Ori Lahav. Photo: Kenes Group.

Thilo Kaiser. Photo: BLAUPFERDE München.

Christian Gante. Photo: BVA.

Sabine Adam. Photo: Congrex Schweiz.

“According to Wikipedia, compliance is the legal and management term used to describe how companies observe rules and regulations, i.e. comply with laws, directives and voluntary codes. Our challenge as a MICE agency and representative of hotels and DMCs from all over the world is to reconcile these self-imposed rules of various industries with the purpose of a ‘motivation trip’ or an incentive. It takes a lot of training for our project managers to impose these rules on suppliers and to implement them in a verifiable manner. Costs also arise as a result of the annually recurring training courses for our employees on amendments to compliance rules and codes. If the client also exerts cost pressure, they cannot always be considered in pricing. In this respect, you must be aware of this dual challenge in order to still conduct a creative and result-oriented incentive.”
Bernd R. Maesse, Managing Director, Maesse Marketing Consulting, Cologne

“What I still consider a challenge in 2019 is that there are not enough meeting design elements at medical associations meetings. To help scientific associations grow, especially with the changing generations, new formats constructed around the needs of the specific audience are key. Through meeting design, we can ensure that the education provided at an event will connect and stick with each participant. I hope that the industry will keep on pushing clients to implement more design elements and formats. But also, that it will realise the importance of meeting architects and will push for more trained professionals.”
Ori Lahav, Vice President Client & Operations, Kenes Group

“While specialist staff used to be the decision-makers, the purchasing department wields the real power now. In other words, choices are made by people who oftentimes cannot judge the conceptual quality, the creation or operational business. As a consequence, the client no longer gets the best service provider, but the cheapest. That‘s very unfortunate. Not only for the agency, which does not participate in price dumping, but also for the client.
 In these cases, it is not uncommon for the actual performance to fall well short of what was promised in the pitch, and cost-intensive improvements are required to achieve the goal. It is difficult to find qualified staff with a high level of technical expertise who can meet a customer at eye level, and actively advise him and engage in a discourse. Recruiting and retaining such staff takes major efforts. Both in terms of time and money. So it’s understandable that quality has its price. For people who do not understand or do not want to understand this, the following applies: “Buy cheap, buy twice.”
Thilo Kaiser, Managing Director, BLAUEPFERDE Munich

“As an agent of the German Ophthalmological Academy (AAD), the largest German-speaking congress for ophthalmology organised by a professional association and scientific society, it is a challenge for us to find an optimum match for the composition of the scientific programme each year. Our aim is to arrange some 300 lectures, courses, symposia and wet labs in such a manner that ophthalmology, in all its thematic breadth, is spread as evenly as possible over the five days of the congress, and that there is no overlap between the lectures of 400 speakers. This is always an exciting task when you consider that many lecturers are also internationally sought-after speakers and that fixed surgery and consulting hours in the clinics and practices additionally limit the selection.”
Christian Gante, Managing Director, Professional Association of Ophthalmologists in Germany

“One of the biggest challenges in the field of medical congresses are the constant amendments to the Pharmaceutical and MedTech Codes. In addition, there is the new stricter data protection, which naturally plays a major role in the relationship between industry and delegates. In addition to these administrative challenges, a meeting planner must also keep an eye on the new zeitgeist and trends, concentrate on new meeting architecture and advise the customer with new innovative ideas. Generation Y expect different things from a congress than previous generations. Meeting everybody’s needs is the great skill of a planner.
We use novelties like name badge printing based on automatic face recognition during registration at smaller events in order to explore how this can develop in the future. This allows meeting planners to test new challenges in practice.”
Sabine Adam, Director Business Development and Key Accounts, Congrex Switzerland