We’ve heard that saying before and in the age of hybrid events, virtual meetings, social media and the up and coming Millennial Generation, there seems to be an assumption that the virtual environment is preferred over face-to-face meetings. Not so. Check out this article. In a recent study, "87% of all professionals believe face-to-face meetings are essential for clinching business deals.” 78% of Gen Xers and 80% of Millennials feel the same. Staggering stats. People still crave the emotional, physical connection made when conducting business. This translates to our meetings. Meetings are Business. Even if you are holding an educational conference, there is always some sort of business being conducted, whether through networking, sharing ideas, brainstorming, discussing general business, etc. These impromptu conversations would not happen virtually and usually happen at the coffee station.
That’s not to say technology isn’t important. Attendees like utilizing technology to link to colleagues who were unable to travel to the meeting, share information and include multiple people around the world for discussions. It’s important to balance hybrid and virtual events with face to face meetings. As mentioned above, attendees receive the emotional and physical connection with attendees at a conference and impromptu conversations are more likely to occur when face to face. Yes, costs are higher for a face to face meeting, but the outcome provides an excellent opportunity for ROI. As quoted by a TMG employee, “They may have to spend a little more money to get to our meeting, but a hand shake, eye to eye contact and networking are better.”
By Heather Seasholtz, CMP | TMG Director of Meetings and Events