Why Are Face-to-Face Meetings so Important Anyway?
Apr 13, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

airport

Even though the economy is on the upswing and most event planners are seeing a slight increase in meeting attendance and the number of meetings, the U.S. Travel Association has come out with a "Keep America Meeting" campaign to continue to shine a spotlight on the importance of meetings to the economic vibrancy of our country's economy. Below is a synopsis of their report. 

According the U.S. Travel Association, a meeting has 3 key components:

  • It has a minimum length of 4 hours;
  • It includes 10 participants or more;
  • It is held within the United States.

Meetings are meant to educate, collaborate, or innovate. Here are two interesting statistics that put meetings in perspective:

  • According to Convention Industry Council's 2009 Economic Significance of Meetings on the US Economy, meeting participants spend $145 billion a year at local businesses including hotels, restaurants, shops, and meeting vendors.
  • 35% of all business travel is meeting related. Meetings provide the greatest financial return over any form of business marketing. For every $1 dollar spent on business travel, $10 to $15 is returned in business according to Oxford Economics USA. 

However, there are 3 things discouraging face-to-face meetings today making it harder to justify the time away from the office and the cost.

  1. Due to tight budgets, "doing more with less", and fear of bad publicity, many organizations are discouraging meeting travel. President Obama issued an executive order reducing federal government travel spending by 20% in 2013. In April 2011, California implemented a ban on non-essential travel by state employees, including travel to conferences and professional development meetings.
     
  2. Outdated transportation infrastructure, aging airports, and the struggling airline industry are having an impact on long-haul travel. Many cities lack mass transit connectivity to and from their airports. According to Frommers, the U.S. has 4 of the world's top 10 worst airport terminals. 
     
  3. With high-tech options available on a person's laptop or tablet, meetings can now take place from the comfort of an office or living room. These include online communities, webinars, and live video streaming, such as Facetime and Skype. 

So, what can we, in the event meeting services industry do to combat these challenges?

  1. Continue to communicate the value of face-to-face meetings to policymakers, business leaders, and individuals. Policymakers need to be armed with information about the economic impact, jobs, and tax revenue. Business leaders need to know about growth and individuals need to be proficent in the reasons why a face-to-face meeting makes sense when they are pitching it to their boss. For more information on the value of meetings to the U.S. economy, read our blog "The Value of Meetings, Part 1 and Part 2". 
     
  2. Encourage our lawmakers to support a comprehensive transportation plan for air, rail, and surface travel including completing the NextGen Air Traffic Control System and modernizing our airports.  Airlines, airports, and the US government need to invest in alternative fuels, streamline the screening process, and work toward improving the US entry process for oversea visitors. 
     
  3. Delineate when virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings make sense. Read our recent blog determining which format works best and why. 

Are you event planning in California? AV Event Solutions can provide you with a comprehensive offering of interactive technology tool rentals for your next meeting or event. Face-to-face meetings are still important and they can help make yours shine! 

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