Full-Service Hotels Look to Gain Group
Business as Physicians Avoid Resorts


By David M. Brudney, ISHC, November 2009 

Much has been written and discussed about the restrictions placed on physicians attending pharmaceutical and other life-science industry corporation training and educational programs, in particular, at high-end resorts throughout North America.  It’s no wonder then that many resort operators have limited drastically or even abandoned altogether pursing this lucrative and highly coveted business.

That’s why I was nearly blown away at what I discovered recently at a very much “non-resort” hotel here in San Diego. Old habits are hard to break for us hotel sales guys, and, of course, I checked the reader board first before meeting my out-of-town breakfast guest. 

I found a medical technology company’s name listed with a full day and evening agenda of meetings. One that really caught my eye was a meeting or event scheduled in the hotel’s outdoor parking lot.

Curiosity got the better of me. I wandered out to the large outdoor parking area, and there I found in a corner of the lot connected end-to-end, two oversized mobile homes—too huge and too long to be called truck and trailers.

A mobile operating room right there in the hotel’s parking lot

I walked inside the tented reception and refreshment center in front and then up the steps into the first unit. What I found was a complete mobile operating room. (I recognized my surroundings right away having personally experienced hip replacement surgery.) In the room were two orthopedic surgeons—both employed, I learned later, by the host medical technology company—in full scrubs maneuvering a cadaver leg under a sheet on one of several operating tables.  My tour guide explained the two surgeons would be demonstrating new procedures and techniques for large joint implants for the hip and knee and, later on, extremity implants for the hand, elbow, shoulder, foot and ankle.

Upon returning to my office, I logged onto the medical technology company’s Web site and learned they’ve been a certified designer, manufacturer and worldwide distributor of orthopedic implants and instrumentation for more than 50 years. Drilling further, I found they produce a number of educational programs for health care professionals at various regional locations. 

These programs are designed to educate the seasoned veteran surgeon interested in expanding his/her scope of practice in the foot and ankle. The program aims to “facilitate higher levels of physician competencies, improve health care delivery and subsequent outcomes of patient care . . . to promote the highest level of patient safety, and further advance the specialty of orthopedic surgery (of the foot and ankle).”

Physicians and other health care professionals attending—as many as 100 over the two-day event—received hands-on training sessions, cadaver workshops, lectures and presentations.

Company compliant with rules and regulations

I wanted to be sure the company was compliant with all current rules and regulations, so I navigated my way to the site’s “Customer Relationship Policy” definitions where I found the following information:

  • (Company authorized) use of “appropriate” off-site venues including hotel or other commercially available meeting facilities conducive to the effective transmission of information.
  • Health care professional attendees may be provided with modest meals and refreshments in connection with these programs. Any such meals and refreshments must be modest in value and subordinate in time and focus to the educational or training purpose of the meeting.
  • (The company) may pay for reasonable travel and modest lodging costs incurred by attending health care professionals where there are objective reasons to support the need for out-of-town travel to efficiently deliver training and education on products and/or medical technologies.
They do, in fact, state that “resort locations are not acceptable locations” for the company’s training and/or education events, adding resorts “are generally not deemed conducive to training, education, or the effective transmission of knowledge and should be avoided as venues for programs and events.” I can’t think of a single resort I know that would not take issue with that statement—but let’s save that for one of my future columns or articles.

More opportunities for proactive full-service commercial hotels

No doubt there must be countless other medical technology companies booking similar training and education events at hotels just like the one here in San Diego. Where resorts have lost, maybe well-located, full-service commercial hotels will benefit—especially those with large, accommodating outdoor parking areas. The San Diego hotel in question was a large, well-respected branded, full-service commercial hotel with 350 guestrooms, less than 25,000 square feet of indoor function space, shopping close by, freeways accessible, located only eight miles away from San Diego’s downtown and airport.

Events just like the one described in this column will be held at various regional locations throughout 2010.  Should they continue to avoid booking resorts, for whatever reason or reasons, this creates some terrific business opportunities for full-service commercial hotels - - especially those with large outdoor parking.


Good news for meetings demand in 2010.  A senior vice president of sales and marketing for one of the upscale brands told me that nearly 100 percent of the company’s meeting planner advisory board members said they had a tremendous backlog of meeting business they plan to book soon for 2010.

© Copyright 2009

David M. Brudney, ISHC, is a veteran hospitality sales and marketing professional concluding his fourth decade of service to the hospitality industry.  Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators on hotel sales and marketing “best practices” and conducts reviews of hospitality (as well as other industry) sales and marketing operations throughout the U.S. and overseas.  The principal of David Brudney & Associates of Carlsbad, CA, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in the hospitality industry since 1979, Brudney is a frequent lecturer, instructor and speaker.  He is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  Previously, Brudney held hospitality sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.


David M. Brudney, ISHC, Principal 
David Brudney & Associates 
Carlsbad, CA 
760-476-0830 Fax 760-476-0860 
(c) 760-994-9266

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