Despite the increase in digital connectedness, a new study by CWT has found businesses benefit most from face-to-face meetings over their virtual counterparts.
The survey of over 1100 business owners and executives found three in four prefer meeting face-to-face to using technology-enabled communications such as video-conferencing.
Of those, nearly one in four (23 per cent) said this is because it helps them build stronger, more meaningful relationships, 17 per cent said they prefer to read people’s body language and facial expressions when in a meeting, and 15 per cent said that they find it easier to get their point across and be persuasive face-to-face.
The 22 per cent of respondents who said they prefer virtual meetings pointed to time and costs as the main reasons – 27 per cent said so because it’s cheaper than travelling to attend meetings, and 35 per cent said that saving time was a key benefit.
The vast majority (92 per cent) of respondents, however, agreed there are tangible business benefits to face-to-face meetings that outweigh any cost savings achieved through technology-enabled meetings.
Despite this, budget restrictions were the most commonly cited hurdle, with nearly two in five (38 per cent) respondents saying this had prevented them from meeting face-to-face.
Only 28 per cent of the respondents surveyed said their companies measure the return-on- investment (ROI) on their business travel spend. Nearly half (47 per cent) said their companies don’t track the ROI on their business travel, while the remaining 25 per cent were not sure.
“One of the key reasons companies struggle to measure the ROI on their travel spend is that travel data is still viewed in a vacuum,” said Michael Ryan, Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand, Carlson Wagonlit Travel. “Understanding the ROI on business travel means looking beyond just flight and hotel costs. Business travel should be viewed in the context of operations, revenue streams and human impact.”
“By combining travel data with HR, corporate finance and other data sources, you can begin to understand the true cost of a business trip versus the value it generates. For example, overlaying travel data with finance data can show you the correlation between travel and revenue growth, and you can see what impact cutting the travel budget for a particular department would have on the business.”
The complete set of findings from the survey are available in the “Gain the Advantage With Face-to-Face Meetings” research paper.