Execs point to drawbacks of on-screen meetings

BCD survey of 738 business travellers worldwide finds online conferences lack relationship building power

BUSINESS travellers are raising concerns about the reliance on screen-based interaction as their primary meeting method with most preferring in-person contact with clients, suppliers and for teambuilding to return, according to a survey by a leading travel management company.

BCD researchers polled 738 business travellers worldwide between July 6-20. Results showed most want pre-pandemic levels of corporate travel to return but were also concerned about quarantine on arrival along with sudden lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Findings show that virtual meetings and remote work are here to stay, but business travel and face-to-face meetings remain “extremely important” and “they are clearly lacking when it comes to relationship building”.

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Seventy-six percent of survey respondents said business travel helped them perform their work efficiently. In a post-pandemic travel environment, 60 per cent would prefer to return to pre-pandemic levels of business travel, while 26 per cent favoured less travel while 9 per cent want to travel more.

For remote versus face-to-face meetings, 74 per cent rate in-person client meetings as the most important reason for business travel, followed by teambuilding, sales meetings and meetings with partners or suppliers.

Respondents cited the main weaknesses of virtual meetings as:

  • Lack of human contact (66%)
  • Limited interaction (58%)
  • Easy distraction (54%)
  • Unsuitability for some meeting types (51%)
  • “Zoom fatigue” and technology issues (49%)

“Meeting face-to-face not only remains a critical component to achieving company goals, it’s also essential to satisfying businesses’ need for efficiency and human interaction,” said Mike Janssen, BCD Travel’s global chief operating officer and chief commercial officer.

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“With vaccinations growing by millions every day, a majority of the workforce is ready to go back on the road, notwithstanding recent spikes of the Covid-19 variant. In a post-pandemic environment, corporations need to continue giving guidance. In order to remain an attractive employer in this fast-developing environment, they should also consider empowering employees to make their own travel decisions.”

Scott Graf, global president at BCD Meetings & Events, said: “While in some parts of the world the pandemic is slowly receding, other parts might continue to rely on virtual meetings.

“Event planners and managers need to up their game with a new skill set that allows them to compensate for the weaknesses of virtual meetings, such as the lack of interaction. Training or outsourced support can be the answer to keep employees focused and motivated in a continually challenging environment.”

One thought on “Execs point to drawbacks of on-screen meetings”

  • This article confirms what everyone working in the live events industry already knows: A virtual incentive trip is not an incentive trip. A Zoom conference means “delegates” sitting in their homes checking emails, playing with the cat or opening unrelated browsers. I look forward to governments finally realizing that Covid 19 cannot be “defeated”, a “Zero Case” policy is absurd and there will be no such thing is “herd immunity”.

    It’s time to face the truth and open the global economy.

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