Went to a session today on the business value of meetings, led by Roger Rickard. He went over some of the studies that have come out on the topic lately, such as MPI's Business Barometers, and research by the U.S. Travel Association, National Business Travel Association, Oxford University, British Airways, and Forbes. The upshot is that while things are definitely looking better than they did this time last year, we're still not recovered to where we were when the freefall precipitated by AIG et al began. And with our elected officials bashing meetings in general as boondoggles and certain destinations as boondoggle central, well, that doesn't help, Rickard said.
What we really need is data from the study PricewaterhouseCoopers is doing for the CIC, which Rickard says will be out in 4th quarter 2010.
Some interesting numbers he mentioned:
$12.50 -- revenue return on every dollar spent on business travel
28% -- amount of current revenue that would be lost if f2f meetings went away
17% -- drop in profits if business travel was eliminated, and it would take three years to recover
95% -- executives who said meetings were critical to maintaining longterm relationships
8.5% -- how much more you'd have to pay people if you did away with incentives
"One thing we must do is blend all the numbers, facts, and research with the human spirit," he said. Face-to-face meetings bring benefits that are extremely difficult to measure.
What we can expect in the future? Likely more of the same: greater accountability for the money spent, more scrutiny, and a continuation of negative public perception. It's time to stop singing to the choir and start singing to our elected officials -- state, local, and federal -- about the facts we have about the value of meetings.
(Disclosure: I received a comp registration for MPI WEC 2010)