by Jilly Bullock, Pharmaceutical Event Manager, McCullough Moore

Venue searching for pharmaceutical clients requires specific things to be considered – you can apply the usual venue-finding processes but when it comes to pharmaceutical advisory boards, investigator meetings and other industry-related events, event planners need to assess some very specific areas.

When a new client requests our help for venue searching or planning for a specific pharmaceutical meeting, we work with them to understand why they need this meeting, and the results they want to achieve from it. It’s key for your event planner to understand the requirements up front as everyone works differently and this helps to ensure the event delivers on all levels – for the pharmaceutical company AND the attendees.

1) Know the budget and stick to it

The first important factor tends to be the cost. Depending on where the attendees are coming from can dictate how much there is to spend. Hotels and venues are very aware that the client has an end budget to work to, to be compliant, and with the right negotiation, hotels can be flexible to your needs.  Event management companies can help with this negotiation and can often bring the costs down using their current relationships with the venue to the advantage of the client. Read here about why event planning companies are worth their weight in gold.

2) Destination is key

On the whole, we at McCullough Moore generally only go for 4* properties when it comes to pharmaceutical events, and so we would start the search based on that. There will be some destinations that pharmaceutical clients want to work with specifically, but you can also draw on the expertise of the event management company to guide you as to where else might be an option. It is always important to go for destinations that are considered ‘hubs’, destinations with good travel links, especially if the attendees are flying in from all over the world, such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and Frankfurt etc. There are definitely some places in the world that we would love to host a pharmaceutical meeting, but would never consider, such as the Maldives, or the Caribbean, as these are considered to be resort locations and therefore not appropriate for events where healthcare professionals are in attendance!

3) Define the event experience you want

Before sending the RFP (request for proposal) to hotels, it’s vital to know what sort of meeting you are planning and how you want the audience to interact and engage. Advisory  Boards are typically best in a u-shape, as you want the conversation to flow between delegates. The same applies to an Investigator Meeting – these are usually styled in classroom seating so that attendees can write things down, but it’s also nice to offer cabaret style seating, as it encourages people to speak and interact.

4) Natural light maintains focus

As a lot of meeting rooms are on the lower ground floor and therefore have no windows. Where there is an opportunity to have a higher floor or a meeting room with natural daylight then try and secure this first and foremost. Curtains can always be pushed to one side during the breaks to open up the room more, especially when there isn’t much space or the weather isn’t great outside. Attendees need to stay focused, especially in the “graveyard slot” after lunch – this is a good time to move them to an area of natural light.

5) Make sure the space works on all levels

It’s important to consider the ceiling height in a room and if there are any obstructions that could block the audience’s view of the screen or presenters.  This is especially vital for Advisory Boards and Investigator Meetings where the level of detail presented is key to the event as a whole. Another thing to consider is in relation to filming for a live stream – the videographers need to get a good view of the space, the audience, the presentations, and the faculty presenting. Ensure they have some input into the venue brief from the outset.

And lastly, it’s really important to check with the venue if there are any other pharmaceutical meetings in-house at the same time. If there are, then it’s critical you are aware of this and check it is not a direct competitor.


If you need help planning an Advisory Board, Investigator Meeting or other pharmaceutical event please get in touch with us.

You can also find out a bit more about what we have done for other pharmaceutical clients by reading our case studies:


Envision Pharma

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