by Loren G. Edelstein | December 06, 2016

In-person meetings considerably enhance the success of small businesses, according to a new survey released today by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. The study, conducted by research firm APCO Insight, surveyed 300 leaders of small businesses (defined as having fewer than 250 employees) representing 24 industries, plus another 100 respondents specifically in the technology sector. 

More than three quarters of respondents (77 percent) said in-person meetings yield a healthy return on investment. Among those in the tech sector, that number is considerably higher, at 95 percent.

Among other key findings: 

• The vast majority (91 percent) plan to spend as much or more on travel for meetings in 2017 as they did this year. While 64 percent will spend about the same amount year-over-year, 27 percent plan to invest more on meetings-related travel in 2017.  

• Nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) said the ability to meet in-person has a meaningful impact on building relationships.

• More than three-quarters (78 percent) believe connecting face-to-face with current and prospective customers improves their ability to run their businesses, as does attending in-person educational events (68 percent) and engaging face-to-face with the community (63 percent).

"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."

In a conference call with media today, Dan Berger, CEO of Social Tables, credited his investment in meetings for the rapid growth of his company, a Washington, D.C.-based small business with more than 4,000 clients. "Meetings have helped Social Tables expand our customer base, enhance our software and ultimately grow our business. It's a competitive advantage we have used to build relationships with new clients, motivate employees and demonstrate thought leadership. Meetings are simply part of the fabric of our company."

Added Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International and co-chair of Meetings Mean Business, "Small-business owners want to know their investments are creating value, and recognize that in-person meetings add that value in crucial ways that remote meetings simply cannot."

For the complete findings, click here.