10 Things to Do Before the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference

Union Square in San Francisco

The 2017 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference kicks off on Jan. 9, beginning a week of frenzied biotech partnering and investor meetings that expand far beyond the namesake event.

In fact, only about a quarter of the 20,000-plus people who descend upon San Francisco’s Union Square will even step foot into the convention’s headquarters, the Westin St. Francis. Many people will be attending the parallel events (Biotech Showcase, Medtech Showcase, RESI, East/West CEO) that have emerged as the conference’s popularity grew, or they’ll be holding their own meetings with some of the countless decision-makers in town.

Whether you’ve been attending this annual event since before it was called the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, or you’re a first-timer wondering how to adequately plan for a conference that doesn’t even have a website, we’ve got some advice for you. From what you pack to how you manage your calendar, here are some of CanaleComm’s expert tips on how to ensure a smooth and successful week.

  1. Buy a portable battery charger, or maybe two. When your iPhone and laptop contains all of your calendar appointments, investor presentations and contacts, you can’t risk losing power. Check out this list of good options for portable battery chargers. As a backup for your backup, make a printout of your calendar and other important documents.
  2. Create a buffer between your meetings. With the majority of meetings taking place within a two-block radius, it’s easy to underestimate travel time. As you’re setting up your jam-packed schedule, be sure to allow 15-30 minutes between meetings to account for walking, unexpected location mix-ups, prior meetings running longer than anticipated, bump-ins with an old friend and the many other unexpected delays that can (and will) arise. That buffer time can mean the difference between making or missing a meeting.
  3. Plan for some exercise. Yes, we know the week of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference is one of the most chaotic of the year, and you’re likely wondering when you’ll even have time to breathe. Hear us out on this one, though. A little exercise will clear your mind and energize you for the important meetings ahead. Have 5-10 minutes? Try an in-room workout. Have an hour? Go for a quick run down to the Embarcadero, or tune into a YouTube yoga lesson. Have two hours free? Ha! That would be a J.P. Morgan miracle.
  4. Pack water and travel-friendly snacks. Restaurants will be booked and lines are long, even at coffee shops and convenience stores. So stock up in advance with healthy snacks and water. Travel-friendly food options include bananas, trail mix and energy bars. Feeling ambitious? Homemade granola, no-bake energy bites and pumpkin seed energy bites are healthy and delicious, though you’ll need to make them at home before you leave.
  5. Make restaurant reservations. Speaking of crowds, getting an impromptu table at one of the nearby restaurants is next to impossible. Use OpenTable or call restaurants in advance to reserve a spot for lunch or dinner.
  6. Don’t book a 7 a.m. meeting on Wednesday. Trust us, you’ll regret it! Tuesday is the busiest night for parties, and it’s likely you’ll stay out later than you intended.
  7. Choose comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking miles every day. If you don’t already own comfy yet presentable shoes, buy them now so you can break them in before you arrive. For some of CanaleComm’s suggestions, check out our ultimate J.P. Morgan shoe guide.
  8. Prepare for chilly weather. Speaking of fashion, don’t forget to pack warm clothes. The average January temp in San Francisco is 51 degrees, and rain is common. Think 51 doesn’t sound so bad? If you’ve been there before, you know that San Francisco is a city that often feels colder than the thermometer would indicate. As Mark Twain famously observed, “The coldest winter I even spent was a summer in San Francisco.” And that was the summer!
  9. Map out your days, then do a walk-through. Scheduling meetings back to back (even if you did follow the buffer rule), leaves little time for error. Review a map before you arrive, and do a practice walk around Union Square to familiarize yourself with the hotels you’ll be visiting throughout the week.
  10. Fly into Oakland. If you haven’t booked your flight yet, this can save you a headache. It takes roughly the same amount of time to drive to Union Square, and the likelihood of a flight delay decreases significantly.

Do you have a great tip for maximizing your week at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference? We’d love to hear it. Send us a tweet via @canalecomm, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #JPM17.

For more advice, check out these other J.P. Morgan guides: Luke Timmerman’s 10 tips for maximizing the JP Morgan Healthcare Experience, which he wrote back in 2013 at Xconomy, remains relevant today, and his recent STAT podcast with Meg Tirrell detailing the birth of the biotech industry, using JPM as a backdrop is a must listen. Or, for a good laugh, read Bruce Booth’s list of 10 little white lies told at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.