The State of In-person Events for Life Sciences & Healthcare in 2023
The global events industry underwent a seismic shift with the necessary move to virtual events, and over the course of 2022, in-person events returned in force. Upon a closer look at certain industries, the strong return to live events is perhaps most notable in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry.
Historically, the life sciences industry has been slow to adopt digital technology, but the pandemic forced the industry toward a more digitally mature setup. While the world looked to healthcare professionals during the pandemic and recovery, they were also the first in line to return to in-person events, as demand surged from healthcare personnel (HCPs).
The life sciences industry knows that the world has changed, and so have their events. Let’s take a deeper look at current event solutions in a new light.
Embracing the winds of change – how can event planners make room for more?
Overall, the event planning industry has seen an unprecedented uptick in optimism regarding the future of in-person events. In the life sciences industry, though, it is not a straightforward mission to jump back to in person. Organising large congresses and live events has always been a complex task.
Meeting owners and agencies that support and service large medical congresses must jump through hoops to deliver a safe and successful event. From venue sourcing to upholding new health safeguards, changing HCP expectations, and exhibitor management, there are many challenges.
Venue sourcing with a new lens
According to experts, 82% of in-person tradeshows and conferences will incorporate a digital component. With this, configuring space and event layout concerns have changed radically. Managing space for in-person attendees and incorporating live streaming or broadcast technology continues to be a complex challenge. For future events, it’s important to consider:
- Implementing a strategic sourcing plan for all meetings and events within a programme – not just your largest event.
- Adapting to changes in attendance and managing attrition by organising smaller and more intimate meetings to attract a more curated C-suite audience.
- Leveraging venue sourcing technology to help you store hotel contacts and get in touch with the right people efficiently at your chosen event venues.
- Adopting the ‘hub and spoke’ model for events for HCPs who are not ready to travel yet. The principal venue hosts the most attendees, while the satellite locations are connected by virtual technology.
Against the current economic backdrop of rising prices and inflation, everything has become more expensive, and budgets are tightening. When planning, it's crucial to take revised budget allocations into account and get the right information from your venue and partners.
Safety remains a top concern
No matter the event format – hybrid or in-person – attendee safety remains top of mind for the healthcare industry as they execute large congresses.
HCPs meet to exchange patient-care information and their experiences. According to a Forrester study, 72% of pharmaceutical marketers regard events as the best way to educate and nurture deep relationships with customers.
This depends entirely on building an environment of trust that serves and nurtures the community whilst connecting all the stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem. To demonstrate the process, multiple measures can be adopted before, during, and after in-person events:
- Companies can encourage pre-event and on-site testing if required.
- During event registration, additional screening questions can be added if necessary to collect information from event attendees.
- The check-in and badging process should be seamless and contact-free at the venue.
- Alternative dining options can be arranged to accommodate personal preferences and make attendees feel comfortable and safe. Offer fewer buffets, increase single-serve options, and make group dinners optional.
- Should the need arise, attendees who need to extend their stay or change their travel itinerary must be accommodated.
HCP expectations have changed
Creating and delivering an overall positive attendee experience begins with a better understanding of attendees and their changing needs. While late to adopt digital technology, the information-seeking preferences of healthcare professionals have changed over the years.
Many are now demanding content in their preferred format at a time that is convenient for them. How can you create in-person HCP events that offer experiences not available through digital platforms?
- Organise unique event experiences for different attendee personas. They could be C-level executives, marketers, or even millennials. From exciting entertainment to novel dining opportunities, the meeting should incorporate fun elements that are not available at home.
- Offer engaging content modules that focus on patient care. It constitutes the core of the industry and HCPs appreciate informative sessions on related subjects.
- Highlight the opportunities for networking with a strong focus on organic, in-person conversations.
- Drive onsite engagement using Q&A sessions, live polling, chats, surveys, and video content to improve the quality of your interactive sessions.
- Extend the life of the event with on-demand content for anyone who wants to view it after the conference ends. Allow easy access for HCPs to revisit sections of content or share sessions with colleagues.
- With events offering virtual, hybrid, and in-person options, exhibitors can leverage multiple options to generate more ROI.
- Exhibitors and sponsors can elevate brand awareness through dynamic and engaging virtual experiences.
- Accelerate reach and build strategic connections to create opportunities for lead generation with various stakeholders in the life sciences industry.
To sum it up
1. It’s not a return to 2019 – the playbook has changed
At the core of all event planning and execution lies the digital transformation of the event landscape. Data democracy, AI, and cutting-edge technology have led to the convergence of digital and physical spaces.
From personalised agenda suggestions in mobile event apps to the gamification of events, there are many ways to engage HCPs and influence their behaviour at events. Most importantly, it is critical to sync data across programmes and events to increase insights and visibility to all key programme stakeholders.
2. Offer options – listen closely to your CPs HPCs
Enabled by technology, the in-person event planning landscape has incorporated a digital component. It is also crucial to respond to the changing expectations of both HCPs and exhibitors.
With the growing requirement for differently styled physical settings, preparing for the unexpected is the only way to land the right fit for your organisation’s venue requirements. While HCPs may now be more willing to attend in-person meetings, event organisers must still include a virtual component. On-demand content must be made available to extend the life cycle of your event.
3. Prepare to be flexible – things are changing every day
There’s no denying that there will be complexities in the healthcare industry moving forward. The sector will continue to feel the effects of global volatility and changing restrictions that impact meetings and events programmes. Flexibility is the key to creating the best experience for in-person HCP events.
With strategic meetings management (SMM) programmes that factor in changing global and local policies, organisations can align their meetings and events to their overarching goals. Ultimately, marketers and event planners must scale their event programmes and be agile enough to switch to different event formats quickly.
Use event tech to successfully execute your events
While large in-person events continue to surge, new opportunities and benefits for the healthcare industry have emerged from years of hosting events virtually. Event technology remains crucial to the successful execution of these events. This is where Cvent steps in to help.
Cvent’s Event Management Software, Attendee Hub, and Onsite Solutions help life sciences organisations plan and execute meetings and events of all sizes. To learn more about how Cvent supports the life sciences industry, contact us today.