Use These New Statistics To Counter Meetings Critics

A new study confirms what most of us in the business travel and meetings industry know deep in our bones: take away meetings travel and your business suffers. The very in-depth study, commissioned by the United States Travel Association and the Destination and Travel Foundation, leaves little doubt that spending face-to-face time with clients will help your business stay profitable.  The numbers are quite compelling--and impressive. Here are some findings: - each greenback invested in business travel, produces $12.50 in revenue and nearly $4 in profits- eliminating business travel slashes 17 percent of profits within a year for the average U.S. business.The study also noted that business and government travel last year supported 2.3 million jobs (1 million of which are directly related to meetings).  And a 10 percent jump in business travel spending would contribute to a rise in the U.S. gross domestic product of between 1.5 percent and 2.8 percent (boy, could we use that right about now). With unemployment already hovering at 10 percent, I shudder at the thought of how further fall-offs in meetings travel could shrink the ranks of independent meeting planners, waiters/waitresses, maids, parking valets--and the many people who rely on meetings to earn a living.The study also provided some interesting statistics that underscored the importance of meetings. For example, sales-related meetings make up 34 percent of business travel spending, and internal meetings, conferences, and trade shows each represent about 10 percent of the average company's travel budget.  The study also confirmed the value of actually touching base with clients, partners or prospectives (versus talking with them virtually): 85 percent of executives say Web meetings and teleconferences are less effective than in-person meetings with prospective customers. And another 63 percent say virtual meetings are less effective than in-person meetings with current customers. (For more insight into face-to-face vs. virtual, see my Sept. 3rd post.

So what to do with this information? Personally, every time I hear someone criticize meetings as "wasteful" or "unnecessary," I'm going to make it my business to cite at least one statistic from this study. It's hard to argue with a cold, hard number, and it does wonders for backing up your point. I urge you to do the same.

To read more on this study, check out The Beat, the business travel newsletter, which covered the story. Visit this link!

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.