Survey Confirms In-Person Client Meetings Trump Technology


A new survey emphasizes the value of face-to-face business meetings.

“More client face time for my dime,” is a phrase that captures the results of Embassy Suites Hotels’ third annual nationwide Business Travel Survey. The survey offered insights into the state of business travel, as well as perceptions on the importance of client face time and its implications when it comes to business relationships. It also gives an insider’s look into hotel and flight preferences and the top destinations and airports for business travel.

“We think it’s important to take the pulse of America’s business travelers each year to validate current travel trends and uncover new ones,” said John Lee, vice president, brand marketing for Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Worldwide. “As 60 percent of our guests are business travelers, it’s a priority to ensure that we are consistently providing an offering that makes each and every business trip even better.”

Face Time Trumps Technology

Ninety-seven percent of business travelers think face time is the most important part of developing and maintaining strong client relationships and more than half (53 percent) of business travelers reported having more in-person meetings with clients than in previous years.

“Face-to-face meetings are irreplaceable when it comes to the health of client relationships,” said business travel strategist Joel Widzer. “We connect with our clients better when we are able to meet in person, which certainly makes it worth taking that business trip on a regular basis.”

In fact, 76 percent of business travelers who had less face time with clients in the past 12 months reported it had a negative impact on their business relationships, the survey reported. For those still skeptical about planning a trip for the next business meeting, the survey found that almost one-in-five (18 percent) of business travelers reported losing a project because they were unable to travel to see a client and 17 percent say they lost the client altogether.

In this digital age where professionals rely on technology for just about everything, the question remains—can apps, emails and video chats replace old-fashioned face time with clients? According to Embassy Suites’ survey, the answer is no. Respondents indicated that it would take an average of five video conferences, 10 phone calls or 20 emails to replace one hour of face-to-face contact with a client.

Looking for Value

According to Embassy Suites’ survey, business travel is on the rise compared to 2010. While business travelers are on the road again, it’s clear they are still looking for value when it comes to booking hotels (27 percent, up from 24 percent in 2010). Business travelers remain budget savvy about accommodations, but they report splurging more when it comes to flights and food. This year, less road warriors are flying exclusively coach to reach their business travel destinations (down to 21 percent from 29 percent in 2010), and only one in five is cutting back on meals this year, down 4 percent from 2010.

Big Apple Ranks Best

When it comes to the best U.S. cities for business travel, New York City is king—the Big Apple was ranked first by survey respondents (20 percent), with the Chicago in second place (12 percent) and Los Angeles in third (10 percent).

Business travelers are torn when it comes to choosing the easiest U.S. airport. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas are tied for first (each receiving 10 percent of the vote), while Los Angeles International Airport and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago are tied for second (each earned themselves 8 percent of the vote).



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