Firms Turn to Teleconferencing as Business Travel Decreases

The prospect of continued flight delays, long check-in times at the airports, and the overall loss of time traveling by air or by car has more and more companies turning to remote conferencing to replace routine business travel.

The trend in reduced business travel started two years ago when shrinking profits resulted in cuts for corporate travel budgets, and companies stepped up their use of teleconferencing by telephone and computers for travel considerations not deemed 'business critical'.

In April 2001, the National Business Travel Association polled 200 companies of different sizes and found 33 percent were using or considering collaboration technologies, primarily videoconferencing, to eliminate costly trips. Allison Marble, spokeswoman for the association said many companies had already been scaling back corporate travel because of the downturn in the economy, and now they are even more reluctant as travel takes more time.

"Given what air travel is like these days, I wanted to find some technological solutions to flying," said Jim Cameron, media trainer for Cameron Communications in Darien. "Regardless of the fact that it is stressful, non-productive time spent, and it's expensive."

Cameron has been using the services of a local Kinko's to hold trainings in videoconference hook-ups to other Kinko's locations or to the videoconference rooms at his clients companies. "A lot of what I do depends on what my client has on their end." Another way he conducts remote trainings is sending the clients his training materials and then following up with a telephone conference. "It not only saves me the hassle and stress of traveling, it saves my clients the travel costs involved, even for a day trip."

Cameron offers a lower rate for his media training services to help encourage his clients to use the remote conferencing method of doing the trainings. "When I pitch it to them as being more convenient for me they feel they can identify with that," Cameron says. "They also recognize that convenience for me is being compensated by a cost savings for them."

"In addition, because of the improvements in technology and the ubiquity of communications," Cameron said, "there's more penetrations of the equipment necessary and more businesses are adopting its usage. It's becoming an easier sell for me."