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November 26, 2013

IHG Report Looks at Value of Face-to-Face Meetings

Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, recently released its first-ever Business Meetings in a Modern World global research report. The report surveyed more than 2,000 business men and women across five major markets – the UK, US, United Arab Emirates, China and India – to see how business professionals are using both virtual and face-to-face meetings, and the possible economic impact of those connections. 

Most notable among the findings is that businesses could be missing out on nearly a quarter (24 percent) of additional revenue because they do not invest enough time in face-to-face contact. The survey found that nearly half (47 percent) of business men and woman surveyed believe they had lost a contract or client simply because they didn’t have enough face-to-face meetings, which resulted in the estimated yearly revenue loss of 24 percent--a significant loss for any business. A full 81 percent of business men and women state that face-to-face meetings are better for building long-term trust and ensuring strong client relationships. However, nearly two thirds (63 percent) reported that the number of virtual meetings they attended has increased in the past 5 - 10 years further demonstrating that the value of face-to-face meetings is being overlooked in favor of cost and time-saving technologies, such as video conferencing.

“Although developments in technology allow business men and women to make achievements in meetings that would have been impossible a few years back, meeting face-to-face continues to bring significant benefits that are much harder to obtain through virtual channels," said Hazel Carter-Showell, Business psychologist and body language expert. "One of these benefits is building trust, which research has shown is behind many profitable companies. Trusted companies have higher morale, productivity, lower employee turnover and create deeper relationships with their customers.”

The report also found that the timing of the meeting plays a factor in its outcome: Tuesday morning is identified as the optimum time for a successful face-to-face meeting in the UK and US, while Monday mornings are considered the best time of the week for productive meetings in China, India and UAE. 

Additional findings from the global survey reveal:
Business men and women worldwide attend more face-to-face and virtual meetings than they did 10 years ago – the biggest increase seen for virtual meetings. 
Starting a new business relationship (57 percent), finalizing a deal (54 percent) and contract negotiation (53 percent) are the top subjects respondents prefer to discuss face-to-face.
53 percent of respondents believe that connecting with a business associate on social media can help them develop a stronger and more trusted relationship. Facebook came out more popular than the business networking website LinkedIn, with 48 percent saying they had used Facebook and 42 percent had looked at an associate’s LinkedIn page.
Small talk is recognized as a good business meeting tool, with the average meeting starting with about 7.5 minutes of light-hearted conversation. 
The UK & the US spend the first few minutes of a meeting discussing the weather, as opposed to news and current affairs, which is the main topic of conversation in China (64 percent), India (59 percent) and the UAE (49 percent). 

Crowne Plaza’s Business Meetings in a Modern World report includes detailed findings from the global research study and was created in association with business psychologist and meetings expert, Hazel Carter-Showell.

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