BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
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Video conferencing is going to replace more and more corporate travel in the near future, according to Regus’ Simon Hunt.
The product director for the serviced office and video conferencing provider said video will become more of an alternative to travel, with more meetings being done remotely.
He said he expects a large increase in the use of videoconferencing in the next four or five months, as the technology and accessibility improves.
The advent of HD has changed the way people’s perceptions of telepresence, he said: “You can feel like you’re taking part in a meeting without actually being there.”
Hunt also said telepresence technology would soon be bookable through outlook, via an externally supplied plugin, which would make a dramatic difference to the ease of booking.
Using the example of Ikea, Hunt spoke about the benefits of telepresence over face-to-face meetings.
Ikea has cut travel two years running, by increasing the use of videoconferencing. Hunt said employees enjoyed getting their life back, as they are not having to travel long distances, and the company has enjoyed a cost reduction.
However, buying video at low cost is still a challenge, said Hunt, as is connecting between network providers.
Also speaking at the session was GetThere’s Guy Snelgar, who said the travel technology firm is working on a new online booking tool which prompts travellers to consider using telepresence instead of travelling, at the point of booking.
The head of business development EMEA said the first version of the tool would be available by the end of 2011.
Business travellers will be able to compare prices and book telepresence suites and travel on any given trip, allowing clients to manage the whole process within one tool.
Eventually, the tool will be able to advise travellers whether a face-to-face meeting with a particular client is worthwhile, based on past business and the number of times a meeting has taken place that year, for example.
“A face-to-face meeting is always better,”he said, but deciding when to meet is more of a challenge – “you need to make the most of time and budget”.