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August 2016

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Being in corporate world for over 15 years in India and having traveled to US and Europe for client meetings, I have always felt that face to face meetings are much better than virtual meetings because they add that human touch and seriousness to the meetings. Of course it may not be possible to do it every month but at least having a meeting once every year or every two years makes sense because you work day in and day out with a client so it’s wonderful to meet them and interact with them on a personal level. Looks like my feelings were right as I recently read a case study by Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts which said that companies could be losing up to a staggering 24% of additional revenue by replacing face to face meetings with virtual meetings. That is a shocking statistic considering that they surveyed more than 2,000 business men and women across five major countries like UK, USA, UAE, China and of course India!

To drive home the point about how virtual meetings are taken too casually, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts was surprised to find that 12% of people who attend virtual meetings take it in their pajamas and around 6% of people went a step too far and took their business calls from the beach! How unprofessional!

Global survey conducted by IHG group of which Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts is a part, also found out some perceptions of business people on what constitutes a good business meeting. It seems business meetings work the best when you meet on Monday or Tuesday of a week during the morning hours. That seems to be the timing for a successful meeting.

Some of the physical aspects of having a successful business meeting are the need for a comfortable temperature – not too hot, neither too cold; comfortable chairs so that there is no back pain during long meetings, natural sunlight seeping into the room so that it makes the room feel bright and fresh and of course a capable meetings facilitator who keeps the meeting on track. It is interesting that most of these requirements are already taken care very effectively by Crowne Plaza hotels & resorts.

While researching about the choice of place where business people would like to have their business meetings, 68% of the respondents mentioned meeting rooms in the office and another 54% said office board room. A healthy 48% did mention that hotel conference rooms are their favorite choices. It’s not hard to see why, as the environment in a hotel conference room is professional with great service and is totally devoid of distraction! Crowne Plaza properties offer comprehensive meetings and event facilities, ensuring guests can work productively, connect with colleagues, and re-energize in order to perform at the top of their game. Crowne Plaza hotels & resorts has an established signature meetings program and three initiatives across the brand: the Crowne Plaza Meetings Director; a two-hour response guarantee to all requests-for-proposal; and a daily meeting debrief on expenses.

For a successful business meeting, it is important to build a rapport with the client or customer by doing ‘small talk’ which also helps in building trust. Some of the popular topics during ‘small talk’ are News and Current Affairs, Weather, Industry News and Social Media. Doing small talk doesn’t work very well with online or virtual meetings the way they work with face to face meetings. In that sense, this is a very significant finding!

There is a flip side to “face to face” meetings too. Users tend to fiddle with their smart phones, which has been voted as the top meeting nuisance of all time! No wonder then that over 69% of users leave their smart phone behind before they think of serious work during a business meeting.

To be well prepared for any meeting, you need to know a lot about your business associates. Facebook and LinkedIn lead with over 42% share of the market right now if you see the aspect of researching, but surprisingly new entrant to the research club is WeChat App where 40% of the respondents try to know more about their business associates.

In the wake of this survey commissioned by Crowne Plaza hotels of IHG group, the inference is that a face to face meeting in a hotel conference room is one of the most preferred options for everyone. With nearly 400 hotels in more than 65 countries which are located in major urban centres, gateway cities and resort destinations worldwide; Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts is one of the first choices of business people for arranging face to face meetings. It also provides services and features that enable guests to enhance their productivity giving them a performance edge to drive their career success. Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts understands the needs of meeting planners and attendees and delivers the right tools and services to ensure that each meeting is a success.

The research was carried out by TNS Global in August 2013. 2,170 respondents were questioned across UK, USA, India, China and the UAE.

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