I have talked with many companies and organizations that have canceled or severely toned down their team meetings and other conferences in 2009 due to the economic conditions.
Additionally there are many "gurus" out there who are wrongly claiming that social media replaces face-to-face networking, training and other interactions. They counsel their clients that online is the new in-person. While the tools to communicate have changed, the human being has not. We are social animals who benefit from congregating in the same room.
Meeting planners, professional speakers, hotels, and convention centers have seen the reality of decreased opportunities in 2009.
According to the Professional Convention Management Association, meeting cancellations and postponements in 2009/2010 are projected to result in $781 million of lost room revenue and $2.5 billion of lost total revenue for the host destinations, lodging accommodations and meeting service suppliers.
The meeting industry is big business, but some have attacked meetings as frivolous in these economic times. The truth is they are actually important to the whole business ecosystem. Without the meeting business, hotels, airlines, rental car companies, and others would need to provide less options to the individual traveler (have you noticed this recently in the fewer number of flights available?)
There is now a pent up demand for meetings from people and companies who are used to having these events. I am starting to see it from potential clients who either canceled their meetings or had no budget in the past 12 months for outside speakers at their gatherings. They are starting to realize that eleminating the user conferences or sales meetings have a downside, and are looking for ways to bring back their events.
A prospect told me this week, "We cannot simply save our way out of the recession. All the cuts we have made in the last year have certainly helped the bottom line, but have hurt the morale of our employees. We are realizing that we must invest in the development of our team if we want them to be loyal and enthusiastic when we see the up-tick in the economy that is expected this fall. If they feel we have cut too much, they will jump ship as soon as there are new jobs opportunities".
How about your company? Have you been so focused on the economy that you have forgotten to look at the morale of your people? This is not just about hosting a meeting to motivate the troops, it goes farther to how you communicate the business situations and future of the whole company. If your people are telling others "I am out of here as soon as I find something new" then can they really be giving your company 100%?
I write and speak about networking, why people matter, and the reality that all opportunities come from people. This is not just an externally focused topic. You treat clients and prospects like gold and invest time and money into making sure your personal relationships are strong.... but many forget that they need to do this with the people who work inside their company. Managers who do not understand this are WRONG. If you have ever thougth that the paycheck you provide them makes interpersonal relationships different.... get over yourself.
People are people and they have a need to feel connected with others. If you are not looking inside your business and finding ways to invest in the relationships, you will never have the level of employee loyalty that you probably wish existed. Loyalty is a two-way street. Investing in the individual (by having educational and motivational meetings ...OR... just spending time getting to know the people who work for you) will make a difference.
Bring everyone together for an offsite meeting and ask them for input on how to thrive in these economic times. It will be the best investment you can make after a year of all this negative mood that has prevailed in the news. Work with your whole team to lead your company out of the recession ahead of your competition.
Have A Great Day.