May 31, 2018

Among the many other logistical challenges of meeting planning, producers of pharmaceutical and life sciences conferences and related educational programming have to comply with per diems and meal caps. Although the hospitality industry and the life sciences sector have a primarily symbiotic relationship, compliance with regulatory requirements like the “Sunshine” Act as well as internal mandates regarding transfers of value can create tension when it comes to negotiating with a hotel or conference facility, when spending on rooms and event-provided meals is tightly controlled.

A new research paper from iSeatz and Phocuswright finds that an increasing number of hotels are tracking many categories of the ancillary products and services business travelers purchase during their stays, and the data researchers uncovered has the potential to give both planners and their negotiating partners on the supplier side more visibility into the value-added component these meeting groups contribute to a hotel’s bottom line.

Phocuswright and iSeatz researchers found that more than 70% of business travelers were, in at least some cases, willing to spend more for ancillary goods and services. Nine out of 10 indicated that they would pay for speedier, upgraded Wi-Fi access and more than 80% said they would pay early check-in or late check-out. “Many also indicated their willingness to pay extra for non-food and beverage items such as business services, personal services, retail and in-room entertainment,” researchers say.

Another advantage for the life sciences sector is that the class of hotel in which travelers tended to be most willing to spend more of their own money on many of these categories aren’t upscale hotels or luxury resorts, but the type of mid-range properties that most often play host to this industry’s educational conferences and meetings. And life sciences educational planners who have an audience of HCPs on the younger end of the spectrum have an extra advantage, as this data reveals a greater willingness among younger travelers to pay out of their own pocket for ancillary services, perks or products.

As more hotels capture these categories of spending, planners should leverage their relationships with property-level and brand sales managers to obtain this data when possible; it also is worth considering incorporating questions about your HCPs’ ancillary out-of-pocket spending on post-event surveys.

Even though compliance regulations impose tight room rate and meal cap limits, if you can come to the bargaining table with empirical evidence that your HCPs are delivering value to host properties through out-of-pocket spending on amenities like faster Wi-Fi, in-room entertainment and dining, late check-outs and other “extras,” you will have demonstrated a much greater value proposition, one that still fits within a compliance-centric paradigm — a win-win for all parties involved.


Contributed by:

Matthew Derner, Global Director, Strategic Meetings Management, AHM

Matthew joined AHM in 2016 and has 18 years of Life Sciences experience. He leads AHM’s Stragetic Meetings Management (SMM) Department and is responsible for engaging current and prospective clients about our SMM compliant meeting solutions across their organizations. Matthew also leads a team of Event Managers & Coordinators that are responsible for the planning and execution of any meeting type outside of Speaker Bureau. Prior to joining AHM, Matthew has worked for Pharmaceutical Companies as well meeting planning agencies in various roles.

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