It’s a growing trend. In 2009, you’ll be attending more and more meetings. From your desk and desktop, that is. In a Travel Procurement article titled “The Next Best Thing To Being There: Virtual Meetings Earn Their Rightful Place In Strategic Meetings Management”, surveyed travel buyers confirm that the trend is real:
Faced with an economic downturn and increased airfares, three-quarters of 230 U.S. travel buyers responding to a recent National Business Travel Association poll reported increased use of teleconferencing and Web-based meetings. Nearly 57 percent cited increased use of videoconferencing. More than 80 percent said the technology replaced actual trips.
Consider the travel policy at P&G:
“Our policy is set up so that virtual media must be considered if business objectives can be achieved,” said Diana Johantgen, service manager for Procter & Gamble’s new meeting, event and convention management team, who helped incorporate a virtual meetings program into that company’s strategic meetings management program.
This shift towards virtual meetings means good things for Cisco (Telepresence and WebEx), Nortel and HP (Telepresence), Citrix (GoToMeeting), Microsoft (Live Meeting) and many others. While virtual meetings and telepresence may never reproduce 100% of in-person meetings, you can’t beat the cost efficiency and convenience.
Additionally, online meetings provide unique benefits, such as the meeting archive. Ever need to schedule a series of information sessions or training presentations? Why not do a virtual meeting (live) and record it – take the archive, edit it down (if needed) and then allow all reamining groups to view the session on-demand, on their schedule. If the presentation is mandatory, the online meeting can be tracked to ensure that all required users end up viewing it.
OK, gotta go now. A virtual meeting awaits!