'5 Reasons Why We Need Face-To-Face Meetings'

06 APRIL 2017

There’s no shortage of articles and guides on how to run live meetings or broadcast events via Facebook and YouTube. From Eventbrite to Livestream, they give you tips on how to engage remote audiences and efficiently adapt to new digital technologies. Today marks "Global Meetings Industry Day" and INCON, the partnership of leading event organizers wants to explore why we are still in business.

If you were to listen to Mark Zuckerberg you might easily get caught up in the rhetoric that the future of meetings is digital. Take a peek at his virtual future of events where Zuckerberg presented a new social Virtual Reality (VR) experience that "overlays VR avatars of friends who are elsewhere on top of your vision so you can hang out together."

No doubt, live stream meetings or events are the best option if you want to save money and time. It involves less headaches and sleepless nights, as the logistics aren’t so painful. In addition, it brings together a larger number of people in different areas of the world, increasing the event’s reach.

"Are you implying that this is the end of face-to-face meetings?" I can practically hear you asking, possibly slightly worried. On the contrary. Live streamed events are real proof that (virtual) attendees crave face-to-face interactions now more than ever. Don’t believe me? Check out the statistics!

According to Digitell, "Up to 30% of people attending a live streamed event have attended the live physical event the following year." At the same time, Dr. Rob Davidson, managing director of MICE, highlights, "The meetings and events industry has seen global growth in 2016, with increasing demand for our services and facilities, as well as in many world regions, increased budgets."

In addition, as President at Boone Associates Mary E. Boone describes, "Never before have meetings occupied such a central position in the government, business, and non-profit community’s focus. While many are justifiably concerned about meetings being cancelled, cut and under-appreciated, this is also a time when the opportunity exists to completely shift the way in which meetings and events are understood by people in positions of power and responsibility."

So we’re good—no reasons to worry. In-person meetings will continue to exist and we, as event professionals, will continue to struggle with countless logistic and planning issues. However, taking into account this new digital layer and multiple live streaming tools with a continuous impact on the event industry, there’s a big question that we must ask ourselves: What exactly keeps face-to-face meetings and events successful?

"Lots of people who want to escape their offices and attend events," you might be thinking is the answer. Why not? It’s a good excuse for a nice change of scenery. Yet, by going deeper and understanding the real value of in-person meetings in the face of multiple digital options (that most of the time appear to be cheaper and more sustainable), we’ll be able to keep up with the change and contribute to the reinvention of this industry.

Thus, in the context of the global awareness campaign "Global Meetings Industry Day," celebrated on April 6, let’s hear from INCON’s partners across the globe why organizing face-to-face meetings is still so successful.

As Roslyn McLeod notes, "Face-to-face meetings are like any other business in a changing world—they must adapt to survive.  Adoption of technology is a must for face-to-face meetings in order to drive engagement with generations who are immersed in their devices." In this context, we can see how the event industry is changing, trying to reinvent itself and following the need to keep up with the new challenges, but also the desire to harness new possibilities. However, in this constant chase for self-improvement and self-actualization, we can see the multiple reasons why face-to-face meetings remain the essential tool for engagement, networking, learning, co-creation, and transformation.

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INCON is a partnership of the world’s leading conference organisers and event management companies. The partnership covers 170 destinations and employs a total of 3,500 staff. INCON has substantial purchasing power and organises annually 10,000 projects and serves 3 million delegates.