The Quantitative Value of Face-to-Face Meetings
May 18, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Face-to-Face Meetings
Aaahhh…technology, isn’t it grand? We are surrounded with computers, web camera, Tablet PCs, and smartphones. Who needs to meet face-to-face anymore, when we can e-mail, Facebook, Skype, or Tweet information to our colleagues or audience? The short answer: We do. The long answer: We must continue to meet face-to-face in order to continue business relationships and partnerships. Period.

Here are a couple of survey results that can help you justify that next business sales meeting or association conference.

Embassy Suites recently conducted a business travel survey with 709 American business travelers, 21 years of age or older. This is what their research found:

1 hour of face-to-face contact EQUALED:

5 video conferences
10 telephone calls or
20 emails

In fact, the respondents went on to say:
  • 96% of the business travelers felt that face time is the most important part of developing and maintaining strong relationships;
  • 76% of those who had less face time in 2010, reported that their business relationship suffered;
  • 18% reported they lost a project because they were unable to travel to meet the client.
"We think it’s important to take the pulse of America’s business travelers each year to validate current travel trends and uncover new ones," said John Lee, Vice President of Brand Marketing for Embassy Suites Hotels. "Face-to-face meetings are irreplaceable when it comes to the health of client relationships," said Joel Widzer, a business travel strategist. "We connect to our clients better when we are able to meet in person, which certainly makes it worth taking that business trip on a regular basis."

In another survey from Business Travel News of 177 North American business travel buyers, found that 86% of those businesses own the following technology:

  • Audio-conferencing
  • Web conferencing
  • Videoconferencing and
  • TelePresence.
In addition, 91% of these businesses used this technology in 2010.

However, only 5% required the traveler to use remote conferencing in lieu of travel.

What does this all mean for the event meeting services industry and how can you apply this knowledege to your next event, meeting, or training program? Here are some ideas you may wish to consider:

  1. Determine the overall value of the event to your attendees, trade show booth vendors, and sponsors. If your attendees are likely to meet 100 to 200 of their peers, trade show booth sales persons will shake hands with 500 people, and/or your sponsors messages are going to be viewed by thousands of people on a computer kiosk or a mobile device, nothing and I mean nothing, beats face-to-face. Quantify your data and share it your potential audience.
  2. Consider going virtual for those small, internal meetings. My mother always said, "Pick your battles," and she was right. Not every meeting requires fly time, so be the one in your organization to suggest those that make more sense over the web. It will make it much easier to sell the conference or conventions you really want and need to go to AND it will make you look proactive.
  3. Let your attendees know whose going to be there and what education you are offering…as early as possible. I am a big fan of on-line communities for events as a way to provide buzz and interactive conversations before the event launches. In addition, crowdsourcing is a great way to help attendees shape the agenda and speaker selection. 
AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment company, offers state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals to help your next meeting, event, convention, or training go off without a hitch. Give them a call today to learn more about their technology rentals and services!

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