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Leading Academic Publishes Research Into The Psychology of Meetings
Research paper reveals the ‘coffee break chat’ as one of the keys to business success
May 05, 2009
SINGAPORE - It might not be what is discussed during a meeting but the informal discussions that take place during the coffee and lunch breaks, or in the taxi on the way to the airport after a business gathering is over, that make face-to face meetings a more effective form of business communication than other increasingly popular ‘virtual alternatives'.
This fact, highlighting the importance of sideline conversations enabled by face-to-face meetings, was one of many findings in a new academic paper entitled ‘Why Face-to-Face Business Meetings Matter' published today by Dr Richard Arvey PhD, Head of the Department of Management and Organisation at National University of Singapore.
Commissioned by Hilton Hotels Corporation (Hilton) in Asia, the paper addresses the business and
psychological values derived from face-to-face meetings. In his paper, Dr Arvey concludes that
meetings definitely matter to the modern business and whilst companies are increasingly relying on
‘computer-mediated' channels such as email or the internet, they should be careful to ensure that
they are still selecting the most appropriate medium for their business discussions.
Speaking about his research Dr Arvey said, "Current trends suggest that face-to-face meetings are
increasingly being substituted by virtual alternatives, but research shows that face-to-face meetings
provide many positive effects compared to computer mediated alternatives. It is my belief that
eliminating face-to-face meetings would be a mistake for businesses because of the variety of
positive psychological as well as general business outcomes that meetings can offer corporations."
He also said that conference calls or emails are a good option when companies want to convey
information but don't really need a decision or response from the participants, or perhaps have a
need to respond to an issue quickly. Meanwhile, face-to-face meetings are considered more
effective when wide consensus and persuasion is required, or when there is a range of complex
tasks or decisions on the agenda.
Dr Arvey's paper goes on to provide further psychological reasons as to why meetings, through
human contact enable transparency and trust, establish strong social and important exchange
relationships and assist the ability for participants to evaluate and judge.
Hilton commissioned the research to explore current business perceptions about the importance of
meetings. The hotel chain wanted to determine whether short term cost cuts made by stopping
meetings were worth the potentially detrimental longer term effects to business.
Dr Arvey also said there was a need to take a different approach to running successful meetings in
countries across Asia Pacific. While Singaporeans prefer to achieve closure and clear procedures
through meeting, participants in China tend to place a higher value on traditions. Meanwhile,
Australians respond better to meetings that emphasize individual responsibility.
Andrew Flack, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Hilton Hotels Asia Pacific said of the Hilton
commissioned research, "Working with a respected academic such as Dr Arvey has provided us with
fresh insights in to the evolving needs of our meetings customers. What we learnt not only supports
our own belief that meetings still matter, but also brings further relevance to our "Meetings for Free"
promotion which is designed to help reduce costs and keep business people meeting".
Meetings For Free‘Why face to face meetings matter' forms part of a comprehensive programme of meetings activity
in support of Hilton's ongoing promotion ‘meetings for free'. Anyone making a bedroom booking
before 30th June for any date in 2009 will be eligible to receive a complimentary day meetings
package including meeting room facilities, refreshments and lunch. The offer extends across all
Hilton Family hotel brands in Asia Pacific: Hilton, Conrad and Doubletree by Hilton.
Meetings for Free applies to any conference, training or sales event held at any one of 47 Hilton
Family hotels across 14 Asia Pacific countries for meetings from as few as 2 to as many as 100
residential delegates. The promotion is open for bookings made during a limited period between
15th April and 30th June 2009, for events taking place throughout the year until 31st December
For more details see the website www.hilton.com/meetingsforfree
- High resolution images of all three ‘outdoor meetings' are available on request
- Interviews with Andrew Flack - Vice President Sales & Marketing, Hilton Hotels Asia Pacific are also
available on request
Bookings for Hilton's Meetings For Free packages can be made from 15th April 2009 to 30th June 2009, for any meeting that is held from 15th April 2009 until the end of 2009. The promotion is applicable across 47 Hilton Family Hotels across 14 countries in Asia Pacifici. For more details see www.hilton.com/meetingsforfree for more information along with direct telephone and e-mail contacts for all hotels where the promotion is available. An immediate verbal quote will be provided.
About Dr Richard Arvey PhD
Dr Richard D Arvey is currently the head of the Department of Management and Organization at the National
University of Singapore and has been active as an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist for over 30 years. After receiving his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1970 and working briefly with Personnel Decisions, Inc., a consulting firm in Minneapolis, he joined the Department of Industrial Management at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Subsequently, he taught at the University of Houston for five years. In 1983, he joined the Industrial Relations Center at the University of Minnesota. He was awarded the Human Resource and Industrial Relations Land Grant Chair in 1998. In 2006 he moved to Singapore where he teaches and conducts research. He was awarded the Career Achievement Award from the Human Resources Division of the Academy of Management in 2006.
His areas of interest and research include the following: Selection and placement of employees, the employment interview, employment testing, discrimination and bias in selection and employment, job analysis, performance appraisal, motivation and job satisfaction, work redesign, and training and development, and more recently leadership. He uses twin studies to examine the genetic components of organizational behavior.
He teaches classes in Staffing, Training and Development, Organizational Behavior, and Research Methodology to MA and PhD students as well as regularly delivers courses and modules to MBA and Executive Development participants. He has taught the Organizational Behavior course to health care professionals in a class delivered at the University of California at Irvine as well as at the University of Vienna.
Over the years, Arvey has served as the academic advisor to over 50 graduate students working toward their Master's or PhD degrees and published more than 100 articles, chapters, or technical reports including his book Fairness in Selecting Employees published in 1979, and revised in 1988. He was recognized as one of the top 10 most published authors in Journal of Applied Psychology and Personnel Psychology during the 1980's and 1990's.
He serves or has served on the Editorial Board of several national professional journals, is a Fellow of the Division of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, American Psychological Association, and held a variety of professional offices and positions. He has consulted with NASA management at the Johnson Space Center helping to devise a valid system for selecting astronauts for long duration space flight missions. He has also consulted with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota helping with several group dynamics and organizational structure issues. In addition, he has served as an expert witness in a variety of court cases over the last 10 years.
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