WASHINGTON, D.C. – Small business owners report that in-person meetings facilitate and enhance their ability to innovate, engage and collaborate, according to a new survey released in early December by the U.S. national coalition Meetings Mean Business (MMB). As a result, 91 per cent of small business owners plan to spend as much or more on travel for meetings in 2017 as they did in 2016.
“The small business owner community is a critical contributor to our economy, and in-person meetings help this community make the most out of their investments,” said Richard Harper, executive vice president at HelmsBriscoe and co-chair of Meetings Mean Business. “MMB’s survey illustrates that small business owners who connect with current and potential customers face-to-face build stronger partnerships that ultimately grow their bottom line.”
The survey shows that small business owners believe their most important business activities, such as building partnerships and negotiating, are more effective face-to-face. Small business owners also say professional development and productivity are improved by in-person meetings. Seven in 10 consider offsite meetings a high priority and more than half consider in-person trainings and continued education classes a priority as well.
Small business owners in the technology sector place an even higher value on connecting face-to-face. Seventy-five per cent of tech small business owners place a high priority on attending networking events, and 81 per cent prioritize participation in industry conferences and trade shows. These benefits, along with the significant return on investment, is likely why, on average, tech businesses estimate they allocated 21 per cent of their operating budget towards travel and attendance at in-person meetings and events in 2016. Fifty-five per cent say they will likely increase the amount they spend on travel next year and 39 per cent say they will keep investment levels the same as 2016.
The financial impact face-to-face meetings provide for small business owners is hard to deny. In fact, 96 per cent of small business owners say in-person meetings yield a return on investment, and a full 100 per cent of technology small business owners say the same.