A lot of professionals have come forth in the past months to defend the value of meetings and travel. One such professional, Bill Conners, NBTA Executive Director & COO, did so in what I thought was a very well-written, to-the-point guest post on NBTA's blog.
In his post, he points out the fact that companies are starting to cancel travel and meetings not because it's not in their interest, but "because they don’t want a tabloid TV cameraman showing up at their next sales conference portraying it as a wild boondoggle."
In reality, companies want to host and attend events—with good reason. He points out a USTA study that showed that 81 percent of business executives from big companies believed that more client contact would be helpful to their companies in an economic downturn. And yet, the (unfair) outrage against meetings has made companies fearful of doing this.
I really like this quote:
"This gives some science to the concept once acted out in a 30- second United Airlines commercial years ago. Those of us in business travel talk about this commercial all the time. It’s the one where the CEO hands his key sales folks airline tickets and tells them to get out there and meet with their customers before they lose them to the competition. This is the other story that needs to be told in this moment of corporate paranoia. If American corporations retreat into a fearful bunker mentality where all business travel and meetings are bad, they will lose to their competition."
It's a valid point, and definitely one that companies need to take into account when they are considering a meeting cancellation. Still, I think it will take some time (and probably a few big companies to take the lead) before organizations feel confident enough that the need to meet outweighs and possible public criticism.
Check out his full post at NBTA's blog.