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Videoconferencing is increasingly a supplement, not a replacement for business travel

Daniel Batchelor

Global Head of Corporate Communications, Amadeus IT Group

We’ve talked about several trends related to business travel behavior, which were identified in our report Shaping the Future of Travel. One such interesting trend is the growing body of evidence that businesses view videoconferencing and business travel for face to face meetings as possessing distinctive strengths and weaknesses and as serving different purposes. Firms are increasingly optimising the two formats and the choice between the two differs according to the sector and the content of the communication.

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study by the Maritz Institute combined a review of academic literature with business surveys and found that face to face meetings are seen as the most effective way for a participant to capture the full attention of his or her audience, to inspire a positive emotional climate, and to build human networks and relationships.

The Importance of Videoconferencing

Other studies have shown that companies regard face-to-face meetings as essential for tacit information exchange such as delivering marketing demonstrations and making business deals. Cultural factors are also significant. In Asia, for example, direct face-to-face contact is a particularly important component of ongoing business relationships.

As the quality and availability of videoconferencing improves, however, it is becoming an increasingly viable alternative to business travel in particular contexts. It is an increasingly popular mode for meetings within a firm or between known partners where the focus is the exchange of explicit information, such as management decisions, project planning or certain types of training.

Also, where cost and time are a particular priority, companies may be more inclined to use videoconferencing. A Norwegian study found that videoconferencing saved time not only on travel and organizational administration, but also in the duration of the meeting itself.

A Sign of Change

Another point also made by study interviewees is that, in the wake of the recession, internal business issues may be increasingly discussed through video (or tele) conferencing, whereas meetings with external clients were more likely to involve physical travel.

Businesses will continue to seek to optimise their use of new technologies, but the ease of communicating via video will boost efficiency and strengthen the business case for investing in long-distance business relationships, which will ultimately benefit the travel sector. We expect there to be room for growth in both videoconferencing and business travel over the next decade, in the context of globalisation and the growth of emerging markets.

Download a free copy of our travel trends report "Shaping the Future of Travel: Macro trends driving industry growth over the next decade" for more about this topic.


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