Thought for the day:Business travel's going nowhere

Online conference expert Mireia Fontbernat puts the case for staying home.Business travel is archaic, expensive and ineffective....

Online conference expert Mireia Fontbernat puts the case for staying home.Business travel is archaic, expensive and ineffective. It used to be seen as a luxury and a deserved perk for a demanding job. But now it's a nuisance. For a start, it's an inefficient way of getting access to the contacts you need to see.

Why is it? Ask yourself this question. If you put your work productivity under the microscope, how much time do you waste travelling to meetings? How much that time would you spend doing the activities that make the business more profitable?

Business travel is not only inefficient - it's costly. The savings on business travel could amount, in some organisations, to the salary of at least one new employee.

Stories about travel delays continue to hit the news like a sledgehammer to a two-inch nail. Such delays affect UK businesses every day leading to a decrease in employee productivity and an increase in their blood pressure.

The time that employees spend out of the office, or away from their laptops, is "wasted time", costing the business money. With the eagle-eyed approach to expenditure these days, it's surprising that companies are not looking more closely at how they can eliminate these costs from the balance sheet.

Collaboration technology, such as audio, video and Web conferencing, has been commercially available for some time. But there is a reluctance to believe that the technology is an easy, cost-effective, and adequate alternative to meeting in person, even though it can be used for most types of meeting: internal communications, relations with external business partners, training, presentations to customers, sales pitches to new customers or market research.

When these collaborative tools have been used, it is usually in a restricted sense. Businesses need to be more visionary when looking at the uses of these tools and should trust in the security and reliability of the latest developments. After all, downtime is less likely to be as frequent, or last as long, as dealing with a train or flight delay.

Some meetings, of course, have to take place face to face. But in most instances it benefits the company to use Web, video or audio conferencing.

As a virtual conference or meeting can be accessed from anywhere in the world, you can increase the likelihood of getting a date in a busy chief executive officer's diary.

The technology is racing ahead, but UK businesses are lagging behind with the belief that business travel is essential. In today's society, business travel does not have to be a necessary evil - it's not necessary at all.

What's your view?
Are face-to-face meetings a waste of cash? Tell us in an e-mail >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Mireia Fontbernat is marketing manager EMEA for online conference and meetings specialist Placeware.
This was last published in July 2002

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