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96 percent of small business owners say that in-person meetings yield a return on investment, according to a new survey by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC). InternationalMeetingsReview.com had a chance to sit in on a media call to learn more.
“Small businesses are a critical contributor to the U.S economy, and we wanted to look at this important group to explore how face to face meetings help them make the most of their investments,” said Richard Harper, executive vice president at HelmsBriscoe and co-chair of MMBC.
The survey, which polled 300 small business owners representing 24 industries, found that 91 percent of respondents plan to spend at least as much in the upcoming year as they did this past year on travel for meetings and conferences. One in four respondents say they plan to spend more.
Driving the continued investment is the fact that most of the respondents say important business functions are best accomplished in person. 82 percent say that building partnerships is best done in person, following by negotiating agreements, finding potential new hires, exploring new business opportunities and engaging with the local community.
The survey also included an oversampling of small business owners in the technology industry to examine more closely the impact of meetings and events on small tech companies.
“When we look at the technology industry, even small business owners in that community rely heavily on face to face meetings,” says Harper. Respondents in the tech industry unanimously agree that in person meetings yield a return on investment, while 98 percent say that in person meetings are important. 91 percent say that connecting face to face with customers or attending conferences improves their ability to run their businesses, while 81 percent say they prioritize industry conferences and trade shows.
“When small businesses are up against larger competitors, personal connections become a key advantage,” notes Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer at MGM Resorts International and co-chair of MMBC. “The poll underscores for us the need for continued investment in face to face meetings. Small business are a cornerstone of our economy, and in-person events and conferences are a critical piece of that strategy.”
Case Study: Social Tables
Dan Berger, founder and CEO of hospitality software company Social Tables, says that in-person meetings have been important to the growth of his business.
“Getting 4,000 new enterprise customers in just four years is something we’re proud of, and trade shows are something we credit for that,” he says.
Social Tables also uses in-person events to connect with the local community. When it opened a new office in Washington, DC, it dedicated one third of the office to meeting space for the community, committing to doing 100 community events over the next two years. Social Tables has exceeded that mark, hosting 110 events over the past nine months, and it has been able to hire at least half a dozed people directly from those community events, Berger says.
The company has also hosted a roadshow to drive sales, as well as quarterly celebration events.
“I think the celebration category is the most important one,” says Berger. “Celebration events are not expensive, and they’re really important for employee morale and culture in general.”
Events have also had a strong impact on the company’s bottom line. “Over the last year, we’ve gotten more than 8,000 leads out of events we’ve done and participated in, and our revenue has grown about 70 percent versus this time last year,” says Berger. “That is so much due to the meetings and events that we do.”
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Source: International Meetings Review