A flurry of new reports about the economic impact of business travel and meetings set the stage for a reinvigorated Meetings Mean Business campaign from a coalition of industry groups in January.
The study State of the Modern Meeting by Blue Jeans Network reported 94 percent of respondents to believe face-to-face communications improve business relationships; U.S. Travel Association’s report The Role of Business Travel in the U.S. Economic Recovery stated nearly three in four frequent business travelers say in-person meetings with clients deliver high impact on customer retention; and the white paper The Future of Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face by The Maritz Institute reports that investment in business travel generates a return of $10 to $15 for each dollar spent.
The data and many other studies confirm that meetings and events play a significant role in helping organizations grow and remain relevant. At the announcement of the new campaign, Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO, said that since 2009, the meetings industry brought in more than $115 billion in GDP, an 8.3 percent increase in employment, and 1.8 million jobs. He also emphasized the importance of fostering personal connections. “The unfortunate trend in the workplace is that we are all disappearing farther behind our electronic devices, empirically and intuitively, that’s counterproductive in multiple respects,” Dow said. “Meetings Mean Business will change the discussion by presenting the airtight case for the irreplaceable value of face-to-face collaboration.”
The current campaign focuses on three main principles: Creating personal connections, which face-to-face events foster; driving positive business outcomes, including profits, education, or winning new accounts; and building strong communities by creating jobs, billions of revenue, and support for communities across the country. But without industry-wide permission for the campaign, there will be little change. The industry’s leaders are taking significant steps to improve the reputation of meetings and events and their effect on the economy. This latest surge of advocacy efforts shows they’re committed to spreading the word, but they can’t go it alone.