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Taking the biscuit in the boardroom


- Eight out of ten believe biscuits improve quality of meeting

- Nation divided over rules on dunking

- 28 per cent will turn nose up at a crumbly biscuit

- Chocolate digestive revealed as top ’bad news biscuit’

According to Britain’s top business professionals, the humble biscuit plays an integral role in influencing company directors, entrepreneurs and budget holders in boardrooms across Britain.

Research by Holiday Inn, part of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), reveals that the quality and type of biscuit presented in a meeting can make or break a deal.

58 per cent of those surveyed said the biscuits served in a meeting can “positively influence a company’s first impressions”, with a massive 80 per cent stating that biscuits improve the quality and outcome of a meeting.

Those in the legal profession are most likely to be influenced by a good quality biscuit (67 per cent), followed by sales, media or marketing professionals (65 per cent).

59 per cent of public sector workers agreed that biscuits can have a “favourable influence” during a meeting. In what is considered the first ever “Business Biscuit Study”, Holiday Inn surveyed over 1,000 business professionals across the UK.

Overall, nearly half (47 per cent) of those quizzed thought that it was very important to serve biscuits during a meeting, with almost two-thirds (64 per cent) confessing that the quality of biscuits on offer was a matter of note or discussion.

Surprisingly, biscuits were also deemed the second most important aspect of the boardroom behind only tables and chairs and were prioritised over lighting, technology and artwork.

According to the data, biscuits - or the absence of them - can help highlight the meeting agenda particularly when breaking bad news. 42 per cent of professionals indicated that they would not serve biscuits if they were about to fire an employee. However, the chocolate digestive was singled out by 18 per cent of professionals as the top biscuit used to soften the blow when delivering bad news.

Chocolate digestives proved the leading contender throughout the research and topped the list of the boardroom’s “Most Wanted” ahead of shortbread (Second), oat biscuits, e.g. HobNob, (Third), jam rings, e.g. Jammy Dodger, (Fourth) with Bourbons completing the top five.

Business biscuit etiquette shows that 50 per cent of business professionals would take a maximum of two biscuits during a meeting, with three being the magic number for 18 per cent. One single biscuit was the limit for ten per cent.

Etiquette has the business world almost equally divided on the subject of dunking. 48 per cent insisted they would dunk, against 52 per cent who said they would not. Men (55 per cent) are rather more likely to dunk than women (45 per cent).

However, the research also showed in certain circumstances biscuits are totally off limits. Almost half (49 per cent) of businessmen and women would decline a biscuit when presenting, with 28.2 per cent revealing they would refuse the biscuits if they looked too crumbly.

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) would wait until someone more senior than them had one before joining in. Just nine per cent of women and 17 per cent of men would take a biscuit whatever the circumstance.

Chris Hale, IHG’s Vice President Marketing & Communications, EMEA

"With over 50 years experience in providing meeting rooms and event management services, the expertise of Holiday Inn is unrivalled. With Holiday Inn customers munching their way through a whopping total of 3.1 million biscuits annually, key players in the business world are clearly being influenced by the quality of boardroom biscuits. The results show a good quality biscuit can have a weighty impact on business proceedings, while biscuit etiquette is high on the agenda. It’s incredible to think that important decisions might be made based on a crumbly biscuit.


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