Crowne Plaza’s first Business Meetings in a Modern World global research report, found that 23 per cent of British business men and women had lost a contract because they didn’t have enough face-to-face meetings and 87 per cent believe that building long-term trust with clients can only be done by seeing them in person.
However, while many see the value in face-to-face contact, 54 per cent of UK respondents reported that the number of virtual meetings they attended has increased in the last 10 years as firms opt for cost and time-saving technologies such as video conferencing.
Hazel Carter-Showell, business psychologist and body language expert, said: “Although developments in technology allow business men and women to make achievements in meetings that would have been impossible a few years back, meeting face-to-face continues to bring significant benefits that are much harder to obtain through virtual channels.
"One of these benefits is building trust, which research has shown is behind many profitable companies. Trusted companies have higher morale, productivity, lower employee turnover and create deeper relationships with their customers”.
The report surveyed more than 2,000 business men and women across five major markets – the UK, US, United Arab Emirates (UAE), China and India – to better understand how business professionals are using both virtual and face-to-face meetings and the possible economic impact.
Janis Cannon, global vice president, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, IHG, said it was important to understand how her company’s brands could meet guests’ needs.
"This research has helped us to further understand the needs of business travellers," she said.
"The findings are clear. Virtual meetings can save time and money, but there are times when sealing a deal requires a handshake and 'seeing the whites of the eyes' of a business associate."
The hotel meetings market has seen signs of growth over the last year with many hotel brands, like De Vere, Jurys Inn and Thistle investing heavily in their meetings space to recapture corporate business.
Accor's luxury brand Pullman Hotels & Resorts has even introduced poker tables to its meeting rooms to bring a playful element to meetings and added a private area for informal conversations or breaks.
'The table is a symbol of the business meeting, but it includes ingenious features inspired by the world of games. It invites participants to lean into it and rest their elbows and hands on it', the company says.
“It takes inspiration for big ideas to make the leap forward. With “Business Playground” we aim to create unforgettable meetings for our guests, so that their gatherings in our establishments in London, Paris, or elsewhere are unlike any others,” added Xavier Louyot, senior vice president at Pullman Global Marketing.