The Value of Face-to-Face Meetings

Published by Steve Manicor | Topics: Associations

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Can web conferences and other virtual meetings replace the value of face-to-face contact?

A Forbes Study (Summer 2009) of more than 750 businesses provides a strong argument for the value of face-to-face meetings. It also supports my very own belief that in-person meetings go deeper than “at your desk” webinars and virtual events.

Their study, “Business Meetings: The Case for Face to Face,” highlights the following:

  • 80% of the executives said they prefer face-to-face contact to virtual meetings
  • dolphinsTop three reasons executives preferred face-to-face meetings:
    • (1) To build stronger, more meaningful business relationships (85%)
    • (2) Allows them to read body language and facial expressions (77%)
    • (3) To have greater social interaction (75%)*. The less than 20 percent who favored virtual meetings feel that the technology saves time (92%), money (88%) and offers more flexibility in location and timing.
  • When asked to choose the meeting method most conducive to fostering specific business actions or outcomes, executives overwhelmingly preferred face-to-face meetings for achieving almost every business objective, including:
    • Persuasion (91%)
    • Leadership (87%)
    • Engagement (87%)
    • Inspiration (85%)
    • Decision making (82%)
    • Accountability (79%)
    • Brainstorming (73%)
    • Strategy (73%)
  • Web-based conferences were preferred only for data oriented presentations (44%) and information dissemination (43%), although they held less than a 10 percent margin over face-to-face meetings in those two areas

According to John Russell, chief executive of NYLO Hotels and former chairman of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, “People don’t want to sit in their office looking at each other on computer screens. That personal interaction–getting together to talk over dinner, drinks or a cup of coffee–is the foundation on which business relationships are built. It’s what drives business.”

>> Download their Free Study

What does this all mean?

It means face-to-face meetings are important, and associations and meeting professionals need to demonstrate how their meetings will offer their potential attendees AND exhibitors something better than average.

  1. Offer Better Sessions and provide a meaningful takeaway for your attendees. The elimination of handouts sort of makes sense from a cost-savings perspective, but attendees want something they can sink their teeth into.
  2. Provide more networking opportunities before, during and after your event. If you are doing the same thing you did last year at your meeting, expect worse results. An online event community can help create event awareness and provide pre-event networking opportunities between attendees and speakers. Mike McCurry, a Strategic Account Manager for Experient, shares how he has met extraordinary people by using social networking sites in his article, “Face2Face Connections Enrich Your Online Network!”
  3. Provide more value to your exhibitors and sponsors. Remember, this group of conference participants pay a lot more than the attendees do, in most cases. They are a great source of event revenue (expo booth fees, ads, etc). Allow your exhibitors to market to your attendees beforehand and set up your breakout sessions so that it optimizes attendee/exhibitor time.


About Steve Manicor

Steve is Omnipress' Director of Business Development. He has over five years serving the meetings and training industry. He leads our product/service leadership and development teams. more




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January 20th, 2010uberVU - social comments says:

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by VelChain: Value of face2face meetings by @chrisuschan w/ Omnipress. I’m a believer!…


January 25th, 2010Cece Salomon-Lee says:

Hi Chris,

These are great thoughts on how to face-to-face meetings are valuable. We don’t disagree and believe that technology, such as social media and virtual events, can augment the F2F experience.

As the Forbes study stated: “Web-, video- and teleconferencing have their role, but the executives in the survey do not expect them to make the need for face-to-face meetings obsolete. Rather, many see the ideal as a mix of face-to-face and technology-enabled meetings and conferences. (Fig. 9)”

I posted a response to the Forbes and HSMAI studies on my company’s blog ( highlighting how virtual can complement face-to-face.

Cece Salomon-Lee


January 25th, 2010Chris Uschan says:

Cece – The right mix of anything applies. Great points!

Social technologies are a great way to increase awareness and attendee interaction. Webinars (or virtual meetings) have value too. It just depends on knowing your audience (or members). Do they replace the face to face meeting… not even close!

Using technology to enhance a meeting is almost becoming standard (if not, it will).

Meeting organizers could easily leverage the face-to-face meeting by taking their top 5 attended/rated sessions at their event and do a virtual meeting and charge for it (any association marketing leaders listening?)… marketing their “best 5” to the 85% of membership that did not attend. Talk about opportunity.

As well, I am seeing the use of event communities more and more. They might be short lived, but as a conference participant (or just an outsider), I sure feel more connected.

Thanks for your comment!

Twitter: chrisuschan


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November 26th, 2013Jeffrey David says:

Face to Face meetings are good but not always feasible. More feasible option will be to conduct meetings online using tools such as RHUB web conferencing appliances, which saves both time and money.

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