How much does your meeting cost – really? The $1 million question

How many meetings did you have this week? And how many of them were amazing experiences? The real truth is that while we love to meet — at football games, restaurants and movie theaters — we absolutely hate meetings. Why? The authors of Better Business Meetings suggest that over 50% of meetings are a waste of time. And with most professionals attending 61 meetings per month, that means that over 30 meetings are just a complete waste of money. But just how much do meetings cost?

By analyzing the real cost of meetings — from the hard travel costs to productivity costs — you are in for a startling revelation in your business.

Onsite meeting with local attendees

Say you have five employees meeting in a conference room in your main office, and all five of them are local. The average annual salary is $55,000 and the reoccurring meeting is once per week for one hour. How much does this meeting cost your company? Approximately $6,500 per year.

Local sales meetings

Now, let’s imagine that you have two sales reps who travel approximately 100 miles per day, four days per week for 10 sales meetings per week. The average annual salary is $80,000. Including gas mileage, travel time, wages and customer lunch expenses, your company spends approximately $138,667 for just two sales reps in a local area with local customers.

How much money does the customer spend on these sales meetings? With an average of three customer representatives at an average salary of $55,000 for a monthly one-hour sales meeting, your customers are spending approximately $1,200 just to meet with you every year.

Out-of-state business meetings

You have six executives travel via airplane for an average of 6 two-night business trips every month. To calculate the cost of these meetings, we must calculate the following costs.

  • Average salary: $700,000
  • Average plane ticket cost: $372
  • Average hotel room per night cost (North America): $113
  • Average cost per meal: $30
  • Misc. transportation costs: $80 per trip
  • Length of meetings: 2 hours

Without the travel expenses, your company spends over $485,000 a year on these six executives’ out of town meetings alone. Add in the travel expenses, you’re looking at approximately $850,000 per year.

Onsite interviews & recruiting

One of the most difficult meeting types to analyze is how much onsite interviews and recruiting efforts cost because every company is different, especially if you outsource your staffing function. So, we’ll take a hypothetical example of a mid-size company.

You have two recruiters (average salary $50,000 per year) in your HR department with an average open head count of 15 per month. You average time-to-fill is 60 days, and you receive approximately 100 resumes per open head count. Out of those 100, your recruiters narrow it down to 20 applicants who qualify for a 30-minute phone interview. Out of those 20, you bring six local candidates onsite for a series of three one-hour interviews with the recruiters and two managers (average salary 80,000 per year).

For just one open headcount, 20 phone interviews per open head count could cost your company up to $28,000 per year — and up to an incredible $5 million per year for filling 150 job openings. The one-hour in-person interviews with your two recruiters and two hiring managers cost $45,000-plus for a single job opening and an even more eye-opening $8 million for filling 180 job openings. The grand total per year for just hosting meetings for 180 job openings? A startling revelation indeed: $13 million.

The cost of meetings is worth it — if you’re meeting right.

Meetings are a vital part of the way we get work done, whether it’s a conference call with your remote sales team or in-person sales pitch with that big client. The way you meet, however, determines if your company is part of the 50% waste of time statistic at the beginning of this blog.

Here are a couple ideas to save money (and productivity) in your next meeting:

  • Choose the venue wisely — do you really need to meet over coffee every time? — opt for email correspondence and virtual meetings when possible to save the travel and expenses cost.
  • If you opt for an onsite meeting, keep your presentation to an hour unless you’re doing a huge presentation. And for multi-person meetings, leave when your turn is done. Why waste three hours in a conference room when you could be out selling?
  • Meet with your customers more often by integrating a virtual meeting experience into your travel routine. By using video conferencing and web conferencing, you might still have to travel, but you can streamline your sales efforts by speaking with more customers, more often.
  • Avoid 1-hour meetings unless completely necessary. You can even opt to switch that weekly meeting to a 10-minute standup meeting to really streamline.
  • Consolidate your interviews by using video conferencing for both the phone interview and first-round meeting portion. That could save you up to half of your fill costs.

Want to calculate how much you’re spending on your meetings? We used an old-school calculator, a little brain power and this great widget from

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Images courtesy of Kiplinger, Smashfly and MarketingProfs.

About Blakely Thomas-Aguilar

Blakely Thomas-Aguilar
Blakely is a work-life juggler with three little monsters, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book-a-holic, Atlanta transplant and PR/social/content strategist (and presentations nerd) for PGi.

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