Face to face works best for business

Look your business client in the eye on Monday mornings in the UAE to increase your sales by 26 per cent, according to research by Crowne Plaza Hotels

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Eye contact at Monday meetings in the UAE could boost your business revenues by at least a quarter per year because virtual meetings don’t always foster the understanding and trust needed to bolster the bottom lines, according to research by Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts.

“The findings are clear,” said Janis Cannon, the global vice president, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts. “Virtual meetings can save time and money but there are times when sealing a deal requires a handshake and ‘seeing the whites of the eyes’ of a business associate.”

That such meetings in the flesh are being reduced to cut costs is evidenced by the more than two thirds of the 2,000 business people surveyed in the United Kingdom, the United States, the UAE, China and India who reported that they have attended more and more virtual meetings in the past five to 10 years through technologies such as video conferencing.

In the UAE alone, 57 per cent of respondents said that they believed they lost business with a client because they didn’t have enough meetings in person, while 79 per cent of Emirati business men and women said client relationships were strengthened more by such meetings than the virtual variety.

The Emirates also happened to be the place where those conducting the survey found the greatest increase in face-to-face encounters in a business setting, an advance of 55 per cent, compared with the average gain of 43 per cent of all the countries surveyed.

That’s perhaps due to the fact that people here like to talk more. UAE executives spend an average of 9.5 minutes on niceties before getting down to business when conducting a meeting, some two minutes longer than the global average and 3.5 minutes more than the US and the UK.

Whereas in those countries, business people ruminate about the weather and their journey to the meeting, in the UAE, news and current affairs are the most popular subjects discussed while warming up ahead of serious negotiations.

Comfortable chairs, a relaxing temperature as well as avoiding the temptation of fidgeting with your smartphone also contribute to a successful meeting, according the report.

mkassem@thenational.ae