Face-to-face interaction is the platform on which deals are struck, relationships are forged and new ideas are generated.

The ability to sit down with colleagues and leaders across industries creates opportunities for instant collaboration, real-time productivity and better business outcomes. In the U.S. alone, meetings contribute more than $280 billion in direct spending each year, employing more than 2.3 million Americans and generating $42 billion dollars in tax revenues.

Coming together

When people meet face-to-face, relationships are developed in a way that technology cannot match or recreate. People pay greater attention and are more likely to engage in meaningful conversations when they are seated in the same room, tackling the same issue together.

Businesses depend on meetings to win customers, close deals and develop high-performing talent. Even as technology makes it easier to connect—via social media, teleconferencing and the like—Warren Buffet had it right when he said, "You will never see eye-to-eye if you never meet face-to-face.”

"Business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions all impart trust, emotion and attention."

Talk to government leaders and you’ll hear a similar story. Congress and federal workers rely on meetings and travel to enable successful information sharing, employee training and development, taxpayer services and collaboration with other agencies or private-sector partners in a way that cannot be accomplished by other means.

In fact, a recent study confirms that government travel for meetings leads to greater productivity and efficiency.

Sealed with a handshake

Remember the airline commercial where the CEO gives tickets to his sales force to go meet face-to-face with their clients to reconnect? Business is built on relationships, and those can only be amplified in person.

An Oxford Economics report proves that every dollar invested in business travel realizes $9.50 in new revenue and produces $2.90 in profits. It shows that companies that invested more in business travel during the economic downturn grew the fastest.

Finding common ground

Bill McDermott, the CEO of SAP, recently shared how the company’s annual event SAPPHIRE helps grow the bottom line:

“For more than 25 years, SAP and our partners have used this annual event to launch new products, to train people, to cement relationships, make news and, most significant, to connect with customers, old and new. Each year brings undeniable ROI: In 2013, for every $1 invested we booked $175 in new business. SAPPHIRE remains one of our most lucrative investments.”

Business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions all impart trust, emotion and attention. There is evidence in Corporate America, Capitol Hill and everywhere in between.