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Sep 6, 2019

Why It Pays to Travel to Conferences

Samantha Shankman

Insights & TrendsReturn to blog

To go or Not to go: Are Conferences Worth It?

TripActions is a global company with more than 800 employees in 9 offices around the world. As a mission-driven company, we make magic happen by focusing on our users -- all of them, all the time -- and that includes our own employees.

Delivering a best-in-class business travel solution so that our employees are able to be where they need to be when they need to be -- stress-free -- is critical to our success. Although we celebrate the technology that makes global collaboration possible, we know that there’s no substitute for spending time together whether it’s with peers, colleagues or customers.

Our mission is to power the in-person connections that move people, ideas, and businesses forward -- and we have the data to back up why that matters.

A recent study in the Harvard Business Review by two social psychologists stressed the importance of communicating in person for a very good reason. We’re less persuasive than we think over email.

According to the research, a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email.

“People tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication,” the researchers concluded.

Organizational behavior experts believe that face-to-face meetings are the easiest way to capture a person’s full attention. Without the distraction of 10 open tabs, we are able to open our eyes and ears to fully engage -- with much better results.

Nearly 100 percent of people say that face-to-face meetings are essential for their business relationships!

For finance teams questioning the cost-benefit of sending an employee to a conference to make new connections and nurture existing ones, studies have found that the average company would lose 17 percent of its profits if it eliminated business travel as companies receive $12.50 in value for every dollar invested in travel.

We’d argue it’s much higher.

It is important to remember that everyone is ultimately in the people business. Meeting in person means more meaningful conversations and deeper relationships.

But just sitting in a room together doesn’t necessarily spell out success.

How Conferences Became Cool

It is critical to craft a productive and inspiring experience where attendees feel welcome, engaged, and turned on. There are basics such as having updated technology to share slideshows and choosing a venue that feels expansive, along with incorporating advanced tools such as integrating great, local food vendors and uplifting entertainment to maximize the attendee experience.

“Events are a platform to translate our business strategy into bold, immersive experiences that accelerate engagement with audiences,” said Nancy Neipp, senior director of global events at Cisco, who plans the company’s flagship customer conference with 28,000 employees.

Events are designed to bring out the best in the industry to look at the most pressing topics and discuss the most pertinent trends.

There’s also an important shift which is changing the very nature of conferences. The “festivalization of meetings” brings together business and creative industries to disrupt how organizations are designing conferences to better engage the audience.

Skift discussed this shift as one of its 2017 “mega trends.”

“The festivalization of meetings trend started with the multidisciplinary programming at SXSW and TED, bringing together thought leaders from different sectors to share their views on driving change in a new era of global connectivity…The big picture takeaway here revolves around driving higher brand engagement by tapping into both the professional and personal interests of attendees,” the report reads.

We’re designing TRAVERSE 19 to not only inspire your mind, but to provide the backdrop for meeting new clients and forming new partnerships in a relaxed yet engaging environment. For one night only, we’re taking over the streets surrounding The Midway.

There will be live music by the James Gang, craft cocktails, local wine and beer, food trucks, and art installations. Any conversation started during the conference can be continued and any deal started can be secured with this amazing backdrop.

“Meetings are increasingly focused on making new, high-quality connections (a.k.a. building tribes) and participant-driven learning,” said Adrian Segar, founder of Conferences That Work, which designs and facilitates engaging events.

“Both outcomes are more easily achieved in small groups.”

During the day, we’ll have more than a dozen break-out groups that put like-minded professionals in a room together to talk about real solutions and solve real challenges. It will cover everything from how AI is changing the face of business travel to the future of travel procurement.

“We have to use technology as a bridge to human connection instead of a barrier. Leaders need to give people space to connect because that’s how they are going to be able to bring their best selves into the workplace and be as productive as possible,” wrote Dan Schwabel in his book Back to Human.

We couldn’t agree more.


For all these reasons and more, we are looking forward to hosting TRAVERSE 19, a travel + tech festival by TripActions, for the first time on October 2-3 in San Francisco.

There will be dozens of sessions that will cover travel policy, consumerization, artificial intelligence, travel program measurement, and duty of care. There will also be food trucks, music, and the opportunity to see the best of San Francisco.

Knowing that everyone who attends TRAVERSE 19 will benefit on multiple levels, we’ve crafted a letter that you can simply fill in to show your manager why TRAVERSE 19 is worth it. We’ll see you there!

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