Face-to-face meetings make an annual contribution of £193bn to the UK economy. In fact, when it comes to securing new business, just by walking out of their front door and going to meet prospects in person, a company is in line to increase revenues by an average £52,400 per year.
This is according to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and UK hotel chain Premier Inn, which found that, when a company does business face-to-face, it stands to gain an average income boost of £147,200 per year.
However, in reality the increase in revenue varies according to size of business. Where small companies can each expect an income boost of £43,200 on average per year, mid-sized businesses will each see a gain of £3.7m per year.
Karen Plumb, director of business to Business at Premier Inn, said: “We all know that when we are meeting virtually, whether on a video or phone call, not everyone is engaged 100 per cent of the time. Welcoming millions of business guests each year, Premier Inn understands how valuable face-to-face interaction is for our customers. Guests stay with us when they’re travelling to all kinds of face-to-face business meetings – from site visits and conferences to new business pitches and brainstorms.”
Manufacturing organisations see the most benefit. By investing £123,600 on face-to-face interaction, each individual manufacturing firm sees a revenue boost of £514,000 annually resulting from meeting in person. Retail organisations also notch up significant gains, each generating an additional £378,000 income per year as a result of meeting face-to-face.
More than half of employees working in small businesses prioritise face-to-face meetings with their potential and existing customers. Medium-sized businesses also value the power of human interaction, with almost half (40.9 per cent) of their employees regularly meeting customers and prospects face-to-face.
Regional variations are in evidence, with London-based businesses benefiting most from face-to-face meetings and earning a £248,100 average annual revenue boost each. Businesses in the West Midlands rank second with a £174,500 annual income gain per business, followed by organisations in the South East of England seeing a £156,800 increase in revenue annually.
Companies in the North East of England see the highest return on investment. On average, for every £1 spent doing business face-to-face these companies see an increase of £5.34, equating to a 434 per cent return on investment.
Denise Taylor, chartered psychologist and career coach, suggested some of the drivers behind the effectiveness of face-to-face business meetings include:
- The fact that it’s harder for attendees to zone out, so you get better engagement
- Body language plays a huge part in communications so it’s easier to read people
- It’s easier to get your point across without feeling rushed in a virtual meeting
- There’s a better chance to build a relationship; it’s a chance to demonstrate your customer service
- When people are in the same space they are more likely to feed off each other and spark creativity