When it comes to the POA meeting in pharmaceuticals there are varying opinions. Some love these meetings and look at them as social events where they can see friends from other parts of the country, drink, hangout and have an altogether good time. For others, these meetings are filled with a tremendous amount of anxiety and dread. These people just cannot stop complaining about everything having to do with the meeting. Whatever your stance is on POA Meetings, they happen every six months or so whether you love them or hate them. When that time rolls around and I you are flown to whatever destination, and placed in a nice hotel room, do you often wonder; Are POA meetings a tremendous waste of money?
Let’s explore the various expenses associated with POA Meetings:
Hotel Rooms: In exploring this subject matter, it must be said that I am almost certain that pharmaceutical companies that conduct POA Meetings surely must get a discounted rate when putting up thousands and thousands of people in hotel rooms. Let’s take a look at all the people who typically attend POA Meetings and need hotel rooms:
- Entire Sales Force
- Typically the large majority of the Marketing Department
- Audio/Visual Crew
- IT Employees
- The Entertainment
- and likely more
Every single one of these groups must have a place to sleep so they are given a hotel room. You are talking about thousands and thousands of hotel rooms. These companies do not put any of these groups up in Motel 6 either…they are typically put up in a Marriott, Sheraton, or any other well know brand. Now each company is different and varies in size, but your middle of the road pharmaceutical company has to have at least 2000 or so professionals in their sales force. The bigger the sales force the bigger the other groups associated with the meeting.
The Food: At every POA Meeting I have ever been to, everyone who attended the meeting was fed breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition to those three meals, there are various breakouts in between meetings and learning sessions where you can get drinks, fruit, trail mix and other type snacks. This is done at least two or three times during the day. Lastly there is typically some type of entertainment or event in the evenings where drinks are served. All of this for thousands of people cannot be cheap. Again, there is surely a discount of some sort for large groups, but with that said, feeding this many people must be expensive.
The Entertainment: I have never been to a concert in my life. I was just never that into a band or an artist to care enough to go. But I have seen 3 Doors Down, John Mayer, Maroon 5, Janelle Monae, Gavin DeGraw, Colbie Caillat, and likely others that I cannot remember right now all at POA Meetings. With the exception of Colbie Caillat all of these are main stream artists. Just joking Colbie. They are all well know artists that are part of popular culture. Basically what I am saying is that they do not just play gigs for corporations for a small fee. They cost a pretty penny I am sure. A mainstream artists and POA Meetings are par for the course…it happens pretty much during most meetings and definitely during a product launch meeting.
The Travel: Unless the reps live in, or are close to the location where POA Meetings are being held, the organization must fly basically thousands of professionals to the meeting. Of course the amount of money spent by the organization depends on the size of its sales force, but suffice it to say whatever the size of the organization….this cannot be cheap. Airfare at its cheapest is around $350 for an individual coach ticket and likely more because they typically set up direct flights. The cheapest flights out there are connecting flights, and pharmaceutical companies in large part do not require reps take connecting flights unless absolutely necessary. Now take $350 aticket at its lowest and multiply that by 2000 salespeople. This equals $750,000 and this is just the sales force and $350 is clearly the lowest end ticket. It is likely well over $1,000,000 to get everyone there.
When the reps arrive at the airport there are usually greeters from a third party organization that was hired by the pharmaceutical company that gobble all of the reps up and get them on large buses that deliver the sales force to whichever hotel or convention center the POA Meetings are being held at. This third party organization obviously costs money and all the buses cost money too. The expenses are compounding by the moment.
Third Party Organizations: There are two third party organizations that I can think of that Pharmaceutical companies typically hire to assist at POA Meetings. The first of which is some type of audio visual organization. When you are at a POA Meeting there are usually general sessions that are held in between the breakout meetings. During these general sessions there are elaborate lighting and stage setups that are constructed. It is actually pretty impressive what they do. There is an entire production team that is making sure each mic is perfect, each light is shined in the correct spot and that a stage is set up to perfection. This group is essential to the operations of the meeting and likely doesn’t come cheap.
The second group is the one that I mentioned earlier. Pharma companies usually hire a third party to assist with getting reps to and from the POA location. They assist in the flow of all of the professionals to and from the airports and if the convention center or hotel is large they assist in getting the professionals to and from point A and point B within the location. They too likely do not come cheap.
So as you can see POA Meetings are tremendous undertakings that cost a ridiculous amount of money….likely in the millions of dollars!! With this article I am likely just hitting on a few of the major expenses. There may be more that we are missing which begs the question….Are POA Meetings a tremendous waste of money? Many might say that these organizations make enough money, why not conduct these meetings!! I agree, in many cases it is a drop in the bucket I am sure and frankly these meetings do not bother me at all. But why not explore the subject matter. Why not pose the question. Are there better ways of doing things?