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Does the future have room for face to face communication?

Research revealed yesterday by Loughborough University and imago, has clearly demonstrated that the meetings industry has a long term place in the commercial world.

The research, which was conducted in conjunction with The Right Solution, measured the value of face to face communication amongst a sample of more than 750 event organisers, delegates, graduate and undergraduate students.

“Including students in the research, particularly those on courses such as Loughborough University’s MBA gives an insight into the minds of future leaders, event delegates and organisers,” comments imago’s head of sales and marketing, Emma Boynton.

Key findings from the research included:

• 96.6% of meetings attendees cited small face to face meetings of fewer than 10 participants as their favoured form of communication. • 75.5% of students back up delegate preferences for smaller meetings with a preference for tutorials rather than lectures. • Group interaction and discussion is considered the top benefit of face to face communications by 78.4% of delegates and 69.4% of students. • On a scale of 0 to 100, delegates ranked engagement during face to face meetings at an average of 85%, with students at 73%. • The strongest emotions during face to face meetings were o Delegates – comfortable, engaged and happy. o Students – inspired, comfortable and interested.

• An interactive format as a tool to retain information was most favoured by both delegates (81%) and students (72.1%). • Use of social media was least favoured by both delegates (15.9%) and students (21.7%). • The increasingly common informal “co-creation” of content also scored poorly – delegates (52.4%) and students (43.8%)

“This data is incredibly important and great news for the industry”, continues Emma Boynton, “Support for smaller meetings was of particular interest. With only 3.4% of delegates expressing a preference for large meetings it is clear that organisers need to ensure that breakout and group interaction sessions are given as much, if not more attention than plenaries in the planning of large events.”

The research also examined the venue research and booking process. In particular it highlighted the fact that 85% of organisers considered it important for a venue to have the latest technology before making a booking yet words relating to technology were not mentioned at all by delegates when asked what environment ensures a successful meeting. Instead 45% of responses focused on light, bright or natural daylight.

These highlights are just the tip of the iceberg, concludes Emma Boynton. “We gathered a vast amount of data during this process and are particularly excited by the opportunity to compare the opinions of those already organising or attending events with future participants. Data such as the negative feeling towards social media and informal content were interesting to see amongst future leaders and students, who you would expect to be supporters. Above all it clearly shows that people want to talk to people and technology is a tool rather than the end goal.”

The final research paper is available from

Follow the debate and share thoughts about the research on twitter via #futureF2F

The research was undertaken by Loughborough University and imago. The Right Solution provided methodology, analysis and validation of the research which was conducted amongst 779 respondents using a mixture of focus groups, online and face to face questionnaires. The research was revealed and interrogated during an education session at The Meetings Show on 8 July, 2015.


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