Face-to-face meetings more important than ever in a tech-driven world

Career Climbers / 12th December 2019

New research from Accor, the leading augmented hospitality group, highlights the importance of face-to-face business meetings over conversations facilitated by technology. New research amongst professional event planners reveals the overwhelming majority (91%) value direct contact more than video interactions or conference calls.

Nearly three quarters (73%) believe kick-off meetings held face to face are invaluable, as they cement team bonds and client relationships. The most commonly cited reasons why people prefer face-to-face meetings are that they help build stronger relationships (71%) and that they allow participants to read the mood of a room and respond appropriately (49%). Face-to-face meetings are also praised for their productivity gains, with 44% of respondents saying they lead to a decrease in the time spent making decisions.

The research also confirmed that event planners are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, with two thirds (66%) ranking a venue that minimises food waste as most important. Venues that enforce a no printing policy (28%) and use solar energy are also appealing to event planners.

Event organisers cited the range of facilities or venues in a city (63%), connectivity (62%) and entertainment (22%) as the most important factors when considering where to host an event. Once the city or region has been chosen, good transport links were cited as the most important factor when booking a venue (69%), followed by the design of the meeting rooms (46%) and break out areas (45%). Venue and meeting room selection commences on average almost five months before the event takes place. Event planners also value hotel brand familiarity, with over two thirds (68%) stating that they would need to be familiar with a brand or hotel in order to book a meeting there.

Dana Lewis, director of meetings, events and leisure, Accor Northern Europe, said: “This research clearly shows that the value of face-to-face kick-off meetings has not been lost in an ever-transforming digital age. The benefits of being able to judge a person’s body language and react in an appropriate manner mean that while technology can help our day to day lives in so many ways, it cannot replace face-to-face interactions.”

Table one: Facilities important to event planners or their clients when choosing a venue to host a meeting

Facilities that event planners or their clients look for in a venue or property hosting a planning meeting

Percentage of respondents who consider this aspect

Proximity to transport links/airport

69%

Meetings rooms’ design

46%

Breakout areas

45%

Ultra-fast Wi-Fi

41%

A/V facilities

32%

Facilities offered to delegates

29%

Dedicated onsite event manager/account manager

27%

All inclusive

16%

Concierge service

5%

Source:  Accor, 2019

Dana Lewis continued: “It’s heartening to see that event planners and their clients are looking to environmentally conscious venues for their meeting needs, reflecting the growing focus on the impact of business operations on the world around us. At Accor we are passionate about sustainable development – as part of our Planet21 commitment to sustainability, we’ve planted over 100,000 trees in the UK in partnership with the Woodland Trust, and saved more than 26,000 meals in Northern Europe though an international partnership with food-waste app Too Good To Go.

“It is also interesting that brand familiarity is so important when booking an external venue for a meeting. Accor has a large portfolio of recognisable brands spanning from the economy to luxury and, as such, is able to offer a huge breadth of different meeting and event spaces for clients.”

Earlier this year, Accor launched its ‘Meetings at Novotel’ concept, piloted at Novotel City South and now being rolled out across the network. The concept includes a range of spaces designed to accommodate a variety of requirements:

Meet is the name given to a new type of space featuring the use of natural wood and steel designed to create a light and authentic feel, ergonomic furniture and the latest digital technology. The use of a digital room for e-conferencing is also set to be developed.

Break is a collection of alternative spaces designed to excite and invigorate for group work, complete with games tables and soft breakout areas for brainstorming sessions.

Recharge will provide meeting spaces with a focal point for wellness and nutrition and offer the opportunity for delegates to recharge in the meeting space.

While Book will provide live meeting space availability through AccorHotels Meeting Planner.

Mercure also offers an ideal setting to host a business meeting, with comfortable, practical spaces and facilities equipped with the latest technology, as well as dedicated responsive teams and catering solutions to provide bespoke packages to meet specific needs.

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