NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--According to a recent Forbes Insights study, “Business Meetings: The
Case for Face-to-Face,” business executives prefer face-to-face meetings
and conferences over virtual meetings, and overwhelmingly agree that
they are necessary for building deeper, more profitable bonds with
clients and business partners – and for maintaining productive
relationships with co-workers. While web-, video- and teleconferencing
have their role, they cannot substitute for human interaction when it
comes to accomplishing certain business objectives.
“Face-to-face meetings and business travel are critical to business
success and important drivers of our economy, so while travel is often
the first budget item to suffer cuts in a recession, it can’t be the
last to be restored if the economy is to grow,” said Kevin Gentzel,
president and group publisher, Forbes Media. “This research shows that
senior business decision makers overwhelmingly point to face-to-face
interaction—traveling to meet clients, convening teams and the
motivation born of live exchange—as a crucial element to their success.”
Highlights of the study:
58% of respondents said they were travelling for business less today
than they were at the beginning of the recession in January 2008, with
more than a third (34%) indicating they were travelling much less
Lower costs and greater reliability have made teleconferences,
videoconferences and web conferences more pervasive options for
meetings, with 59% of executives saying their use of technology-driven
meetings had increased during the recession.
At the same time, executives still expressed an overwhelming
preference for face-to-face meetings, with more than eight out of ten
(84%) saying they prefer in-person contact to virtual.
Those that prefer face-to-face meetings believe they facilitate the
Building stronger, more meaningful relationships (85%)
The ability to “read” another person (77%), and
Greater social interaction (75%).
Those who favored virtual meetings took more of a bottom-line
approach, saying they saved them time (92%) and money (88%), or
offered greater location flexibility (76%).
Executives prefer face-to-face meetings when the decision-making
process is fluid, requiring the kind of give-and-take typical of
complex decisions and sales. Respondents said face-to-face meetings
are best for:
Accountability (79%), and
When web-, video- and teleconferences were preferred, it was
generally for the dissemination of data or when time was of
Attention is an issue of key concern among executives as well. Many
executives expressed concern that attendees did not give their full
attention to virtual meetings.
58% admitted that they “frequently” surf the web, check their
email, read unrelated materials and handle other ancillary work
during digital meetings.
64% of those who prefer technology-enabled business meetings like
them because they allow them to multitask.
87% agree that there are tangible business benefits to in-person,
face-to-face meetings that outweigh the cost savings of alternative,
technology-based meeting methods such as webconferencing or
Executives also believe the following is true of in-person and
Being able to combine personal travel with business travel (64%)
Face-to-face interaction with co-workers is necessary for
effective teamwork (80%)
“Down” time at in-person conferences builds stronger client bonds
This study is based on a survey of 760 business executives conducted by
Forbes Insights in June 2009. Half of the respondents represented small
businesses (under 100 employees), while 20% were from midsized
businesses (100-999 employees), and 30% were from enterprises (1000-plus
employees). In terms of title, 48% of respondents were either owners or
c-level executives. To request a copy of the study, visit: http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/Business_Meetings_FaceToFace/index.html.
About Forbes Insights
Forbes Insights is the custom research practice of Forbes Media,
publisher of Forbes magazine and Forbes.com, whose combined media
properties reach nearly 50 million business decision makers worldwide on
a monthly basis. Taking advantage of a proprietary database of
senior-level executives in the Forbes community, Forbes Insights’
research covers a wide range of vital business issues, including: talent
management; corporate social responsibility; financial benchmarking;
risk and regulation; and doing business in emerging markets.