The value of meeting face-to-face must always be evaluated and a cost-benefit ratio applied. This may include factors such as (but not limited to):
- Objective of the meeting(s)
- Travel distance and cost
- Travel time and availability meet
- Ancillary costs – ground transfers, meals
- Large costs – meeting venues, food and beverage, furniture and equipment, production
- Large costs – exhibiting – wide and varied
What business can be accomplished face-to-face that cannot be done in other ways? What it comes down to is a simple question: “Can I use this meeting to build relationship equity?”
There is a trust factor that we can truly only assess in a face-to-face meeting, where we gauge not only the words being spoken but respond to the many and all important non-verbal cues that go into our decision making about who we enter into a relationship – social or business – with. While we often make preliminary connections over social media or through emails, telephone or video calls, it is rare to make a serious meeting buying decision until you have seen both the destination and the people who will support you on the ground.
When you understand how your local hosts will contribute to the success of your meeting through their relationships – be these academic/knowledge based, rooted in philanthropy or philosophy, or the meeting and event specialists available to you – it is then that you can move forward feeling you have made an excellent choice. It is these choices that set the stage for our groups to gather, enjoy a reward trip or a trade show, meet for discussions and collaborations, never truly understanding the thoughtful work that has gone into selecting the destination, venue and designing a flow that allows these to happen. Our rewards, as meeting planners, come in seeing the results in the smiles and handshakes, the conversations and ideas that spring up and blossom.
When groups gather at meetings and exhibitions, as thousands did recently at IMEX in Las Vegas, they may have brought solid RFPs in some cases. However, for many, this is the time to shop the world, getting a sense of the destinations and the people involved, as hotel partners, destination marketing organizations and convention service bureaus, destination management companies and networks, technology and entertainment suppliers and related associations all come together under one roof to meet with corporate, association and independent meeting planners and their agency partners.
This is a show of handshakes and hugs, of ideas and inspirations, of meeting many for the first time in person, and being able to appreciate what each brings. Business is discussed, decisions are weighed, and opportunities to ask questions unanswered on other mediums are embraced. It is an exhausting show (like many) beginning with breakfast events and ending with late night fun and fundraising events. The days brim over, requiring the sustained energy only a true hospitality professional is able to summon for just such times, and yes, relationships are deepened, renewed and begun. This is why face-to-face meetings and exhibitions are not easily replaced, and why we continue to be excited about the possibilities each time we attend one ourselves.