It seems like a day doesn’t go by without the unveiling of the “newest, fastest, best-ever” digital device, technology, or application that will help us to connect even more – or even more quickly – with others.
The possible ways to communicate have rapidly multiplied over the last few years. In addition to traditional forms of communication like talking on the phone, emailing, or (yes, even) sending a letter, we now can instantly connect via texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, blogging, etc., etc., etc.
But while there are many great benefits to utilizing these new and innovative ways to communicate, it is important to recognize that there is a time and a place for everything. This is particularly true in the meetings and events industry.
Utilizing Technology To Advance Communication
There are many great applications and social media sites that can enhance the communication process for those who will attend, potentially attend, or who are already in attendance at our programs. A very helpful article on this topic is “There’s a Meeting Planner App For That,” by Leo Jakobson on SuccessfulMeetings.com.
But while utilizing the latest technological innovations can be truly helpful, it is important to use these tools as a means to pave the way for better communications — in other words, use the tools to advance communication, rather than to avoid it.
Too often these days, people send a text message or an email when a face-to-face conversation would be much more effective.
The Value of Face-To-Face Interaction
In our industry, we recognize the value of face-to-face interaction. However, we need to remind ourselves that this doesn’t just apply to meetings and programs, but also to our daily work life.
We certainly know that research shows that in-person programs enable us to build and enhance important business relationships, as well as advance our most important objectives and projects. But this is also true in our daily interactions at work. As Gary R. McClain and Deborah S. Romaine stated in their book The Everything Managing People Book, “Consistent, daily face-to-face communication promotes more than just good feelings; it also promotes effective and collaborative teamwork.”
Of course, face-to-face communication provides the opportunity to gauge and interpret the non-verbal cues we’re receiving. This ranges from facial expressions and eye contact, to head movements, hand gestures, and body language. Since 93% of communication is non-verbal, those who are relying too heavily on the written word via social media and the like – rather than personal contact – are missing a huge component of communication.
In addition to the benefits of in-person interaction, personal experiences cannot be underestimated. Are you relying too much on information you acquire on the Internet? It certainly can be an easy trap to fall into. Take, for example, researching hotels and resorts for upcoming programs. While information gleaned on the web can be very valuable, it certainly can’t replace personal experiences. If you have not yet experienced a property that you are looking at, talk to other planners who have.
Also, be sure to utilize your Global Sales Organization (GSO) professional, who has first-hand knowledge of, and personal current experience with, the properties you are considering. You do not want to rely on a website that is showing photos from 10 years ago. The GSO sales professional can provide guidance and recommendations for the hotel or resort that specifically will suit your program’s needs. This saves you valuable time and resources. Then, if possible, personally experience the property to confirm that it is the perfect site for your group’s needs.
It may seem ironic, but connecting is not that easy in the Internet age. Use the latest technologies to advance communication within your organization and for your programs, but don’t underestimate the value of face-to-face interaction and personal experiences.
Now, can we talk?
David Gabri is CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), the leading independent Global Sales Organization serving the North American Meetings & Incentive marketplace for its membership of over 250 luxury-level hotels and resorts around the world. ALHI’s portfolio also features Destination Management Companies (DMCs) in more than 100 locations worldwide, plus 23 luxury-level cruise ships. Contact your nearest ALHI Global Sales Office, or call the “ALHI Group Desk” toll-free at 866-303-2544, and visit alhi.com .