BostonCoach Survey Unearths Deep Dissatisfaction with Trade Shows, Conferences and Meetings; More than 70% of Attendees Harbor Negative Feelings
Contrary to the assumption that attendees of trade shows, conferences and other large, off-site corporate events and meetings enjoy their expense account-paid trip away from the office, 70 percent of attendees harbor negative feelings about their typical experience, according to research conducted for ground transportation services company BostonCoach. The research results were released today at the National Business Travel Association International Convention and Exposition in Chicago.
“I stress about the logistics to attend the event, the planning to be away from home, how to get to the event and back again, what will happen in the office while I'm gone.”
"The results of this survey have important implications for organizations staging events," says BostonCoach president and CEO Jonathan P. Danforth. "Producing a truly successful event requires focusing on activities and logistics that extend well beyond the show floor or a meeting room."
The online survey of 129 meeting and event attendees was conducted by Salem, Mass.-based market-insights firm G2M and revealed considerable passion about business travel - not all of it good.
"We wanted to discover the emotional drivers - the hot buttons - of folks who attend events to see if there's room for improvement in the attendee experience," explains Bill Mount, a partner at G2M. "There clearly is, based on more than 2,000 spontaneous verbatim comments of respondents." Among the comments were these:
"Changing my routine makes me tired. Having to sit for long periods of time to listen to presentations makes me tired. The process of dealing with planes, car travel makes me tired."
"I don't like to travel. I don't like to be away from home. I dislike the hassle of dealing with travel plans."
"I stress about the logistics to attend the event, the planning to be away from home, how to get to the event and back again, what will happen in the office while I'm gone."
While a slight majority of attendees, 55 percent, do love the excitement of conferences and meetings and the prospect of networking and learning new things, the logistics of traveling and the mounting work awaiting their return at the office overshadow their overall assessment of events. In the end, attendees find little value in their business trips and characterize them, in one respondent's words, as "not worth their time."
"Part of what must go into creating a well-received event," explains Danforth, "is creating a cocoon-like atmosphere in which meeting planners and event organizers turn the negative feelings of attendees into the passionately positive before they even get to the event venue."
Essentially, it's important to make attendees happy - to show them that it's worth their time to attend - by addressing their top three passions revealed in the survey:
1. Enjoyment. Show the 55 percent of attendees who are neither stimulated nor energized by events a good time, inside and outside the meeting hall, before and after the event. Improve their down time with local tours and adventures near the venue. Attendees want to learn and experience a heightened sense of energy and anticipation - and a great lineup of speakers isn't enough.
2. Value. Make the events more worthwhile to attendees. They are running an ROI calculation throughout the event and are considering all the costs and benefits of being there - financial, personal and professional. Forty-eight percent are mildly or passionately negative about the lack of value they perceive. Consider scheduling breaks in the program that allow attendees to check in and reconnect with the office.
3. Traveling. Work with transportation partners that help create a stress-free experience from the moment attendees leave for an event. In addition to not wanting to be out of the office and away from home, 30 percent of attendees are passionately or partially negative about business travel, with hassles in the air and on the ground and in what they perceive to be a loss of control.
Business travelers who attend events want to feel that it was worth the trip, according to the BostonCoach survey, but most don't, because these most passionate needs aren't being met.
BostonCoach provides ground transportation for leisure and business travelers in hundreds of cities worldwide. The company operates sedans, limousines, vans, SUVs and motor coaches for executive sedan, group transportation and road show services. With industry-leading technology and superior customer service, BostonCoach assists corporate clients with the comprehensive management of large corporate transportation programs. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, one of the world's leading investment companies.