We’ve all gotten a taste of digital conferences and other online gatherings in the age of COVID-19. But how will the digital vs. in-person meetings debate be settled after the pandemic?
Throughout 2020 and the start of 2021, professionals around the world attended their fair share of Zoom meetings. This was done out of necessity, of course, but things are changing for the better now as vaccines are becoming more readily available and travel restrictions are lifting. This means we can turn our attention to debating digital vs. in-person meetings and answering questions like:
- Which is most appropriate?
- Which is best for attendees?
- Which delivers the most value for the business?
Here’s a template for making decisions as you consider digital vs. in-person meetings for your company and its team members now and in the coming weeks and months.
Look First at ROI
Return on investment has always been the most important factor when choosing business travel. But, in a post COVID-19 world, there’s heightened importance on ROI.
It should be relatively easy to determine what travel itineraries can and will deliver the highest return. For example, meetings with prospective clients where deals are expected to close obviously deliver a high return. So too do conferences and exhibitions where your sales team typically collects high-value leads.
It’s also relatively easy to determine what travel itineraries do not deliver high value. In most cases, these lower-value itineraries are ones that can be easily replaced by virtual meetings.
Identify Meetings That Work Well Virtually
What meetings work best virtually? While it’s undoubtedly important for your team members to pursue continuing education and training opportunities, these types of meetings lend themselves well to digital environments.
Also, during the pandemic, organizations that typically put on education and training events have made great strides in perfecting their virtual presentations. That is, now is the best time in history to take a virtual education course or training.
As a Travel Manager, you have a great deal to think about and consider on a day-to-day basis. So, when in doubt about high- vs. low-value gatherings and making decisions about virtual vs. in-person meetings, turn to your team and colleagues for advice.
Get Feedback From Your Team
No one understands the importance of travel more than your team members who typically leave the office for work. Consider creating a survey to get feedback on what meetings your team members feel must be conducted in person. You can also ask questions about the types of meetings that your team members feel work well virtually.
At this point, we’ve all spent a great deal of time on Zoom calls and other virtual gatherings, trying to keep business moving forward as usual. You could even say that your team members are now experts on virtual meetings, and they know best what can be handled virtually versus what needs to be handled in person.
After you get quantitative feedback via survey, consider putting together a focus group of the most regular Travelers in your company. Try to get a diverse cross-section that represents different departments. These focus groups will give you a chance to drill deeper into the feedback you received through the survey. Between a survey and these focus groups, you should be well-informed to make decisions about value and digital vs. in-person meetings.
Let Us Help Optimize Your Travel Spend
At JTB Business Travel, we have always believed that the easiest way to save money is to avoid unnecessary business trips. That philosophy dates back well before the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re looking for support with managing your travel program and making decisions about digital vs. in-person meetings, JTB Business Travel is here to help.