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IHG research finds face-to-face generates more business

‘Business Meetings in a Modern World’ global research report found that businesses are missing out on 24% of additional revenue because they are not investing enough time in face-to-face contact.

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. 

The survey found that:

  • Nearly half (47%) of business men and woman surveyed believe they had lost a contract or client simply because they didn’t have enough face-to-face meetings, which resulted in the estimated yearly revenue loss of 24% – a significant loss for any business;
  • In fact, 81% of business men and women state that face-to-face meetings are better for building long-term trust and ensuring strong client relationships; and
  • However, nearly two thirds (63%) reported that the number of virtual meetings they attended has increased in the past 5 – 10 years further demonstrating that the value of face-to-face meetings is being overlooked in favour of cost and time-saving technologies, such as video conferencing.
  • Business men and women worldwide attend more face-to-face and virtual meetings than they did 10 years ago – the biggest increase seen for virtual meetings; 
  • Starting a new business relationship (57%), finalising a deal (54%) and contract negotiation (53%) are the top subjects respondents prefer to discuss face-to-face;

  • 53% of respondents believe that connecting with a business associate on social media can help them develop a stronger and more trusted relationship. Facebook came out more popular than the business networking website LinkedIn, with 48% saying they had used Facebook and 42% had looked at an associate’s LinkedIn page;

  • Small talk is recognised as a good business meeting tool, with the average meeting starting with about 7.5 minutes of light-hearted conversation; and 

  • The UK & the US spend the first few minutes of a meeting discussing the weather, as opposed to news and current affairs, which is the main topic of conversation in China (64%), India (59%) and the UAE (49%).


    Report creator business psychologist and body language expert Hazel Carter-Showell 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.”

According to the findings in the report, not only how a business meeting is conducted, but also when, could change the outcome. Tuesday morning is identified as the optimum time for a successful face-to-face meeting in the UK and US, while Monday mornings are considered the best time of the week for productive meetings in China, India and UAE.