Study: Face-to-Face Captures Attention Best

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Ithaca, NY – The intangibles of face-to-face meetings can be more potent than virtual and online technology when it comes to capturing the imaginations and enthusiasm of attendees.

That was the conclusion of a report, The Future of Meetings: The Case or Face to Face, released this month by The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University. The report, written by top executives at Maritz Travel Company, said the superior capability of physical events to hold the attention of attendees and allow the formation of valuable personal relationships made trade shows, conventions and corporate events well worth the cost. The report stated, “Large face-to-face meetings and events are the best option when a business or organization needs to capture attention necessary for a new or different strategy, relationship or product.”

The report analyzed data provided by Maritz as well as studies on group psychology published in scientific journals. The conclusion was that the focused environment of an exhibition or other business event was a powerful asset for companies and organizations.

The report concluded that face-to-face was the best option for:

  • Capturing attention: Attendees have fewer distractions on the exhibit floor and are less tempted to check e-mails or do other multi-tasking chores than they would when taking part in a virtual event.
  • Inspiring a positive emotional climate: Attendees like to associate with their peers. Even people working on virtual technology attend physical conferences.
  • Networking and relationship building: Socializing and making new friends in an industry can have great appeal. Experts predict informal networks of people within an organization that are bonded by a group loyalty will become even more important than traditional chains of command as the economy recovers.

The report’s conclusions also acknowledged that attending an out-of-town event involves costs considerably above those of a virtual event. The price also leads to high expectations of a favorable return on investment.

“We have gone through a period of expense-cutting and intense public scrutiny,” the report said. “We are emerging into a focus on growth and innovation where large-group meetings and events play a key role in setting the conditions for growth and innovation.”

The entire report can be found on the website of Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research (www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/perspective).

Reach Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Maritz Travel Company, at 636-827-4000 or christine.duffy@maritz.com