With increasing prices for airfare, baggage handling, fuel, and hotel rates, many business associates are looking for ways to reduce their travel costs. In fact, according to the National Business Travel Association’s 2009 Forecast, 81% of travel buyers feel that technology is replacing business travel. It is obvious that with options such as teleconferencing and virtual web meetings, face to face meetings requiring business flights and hotel stays are becoming less and less necessary. So how can your company save money this year by implementing such technology?
Services such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, MegaMeeting, or Microsoft Office Live Meeting offer video and web conferencing for professionals. While each particular company has their own monthly fees ranging from $49 to multiple thousands of dollars depending upon the number of participants and extra features, they all provide a similar service. You can conduct a virtual conference from anywhere with as few as 1 other person or as many as 5,000 participants. Rather than travel across the country to deliver a powerful presentation to a prospective client, you can simply log on to one of the many available service providers and conduct the meeting from your office. During the meeting you can conduct audio conferencing via the phone and the computer. You can also have full desktop and specific application sharing capabilities.
You can also record the meeting or conference for future reference or training use. At any time during the conference, you can switch presenters or invite in other users. With programs like Microsoft Office Live Meeting, you can work with several others to collaborate, brainstorm, create, and edit documents. You can also deliver presentations and negotiate deals from the comforts of your office.
While there are circumstances when you must make a physical meeting or conference in order to appropriately handle a given task, virtual conferencing does have many benefits for meetings that don’t necessarily need to be conducted face-to-face. Aside from saving your company a great deal of money on bills associated with travel such as airfare or rental car, hotel, and food costs, virtual conferencing can also increase productivity. If you do not need to take time out of your busy week to travel to another state, you will have more time to focus on other important tasks. You can also collaborate with clients, employees, coworkers, etc. in a matter of moments. When a critical decision must be reached, you eliminate last minute travels by working together in a virtual meeting.
Not only will you save yourself time, you will also save your client time. As you free up time and become more accessible, your clients will appreciate the flexibility that a virtual meeting offers. If you are conducting a meeting with several individuals, they can all work from their own office, eliminating the need to arrive at a conference room at a specific time. If one participant is only needed for a few minutes, rather than spending hours at a physical meeting, you can invite them in only when necessary.
Although virtual meetings and conferences cannot necessarily take the place of all physical meetings, integrating such platforms into your business can save you and your clients a great deal of time and money. Before choosing a particular provider, be sure to research their monthly fees, installation fees (if any), amount of time allowed per session, number of participants allowed, and specific features. These forms of technology could prove incredibly beneficial to your business.