• 21st century business: Will face-to-face meetings be replaced by technology?

    In the world of iPads and smart phones that offer an array of video, phone and conferencing capabilities, some forward-thinking individuals wonder if the standard face-to-face meeting format will eventually fade away with other extinct travel essentials like paper tickets and pagers.

    Airline prices are rising. Hotel rates are going up. Car rental can add hundreds of dollars to an itinerary, not to mention meal expenses. So why is it that cost-conscious businesses are not abandoning face-to-face meetings altogether?

    In 2010, Carlson Wagonlit Travel addressed this trend by offering clients CWT Telepresence, a packaged program that provides clients access to public telepresence rooms, enabling companies to reduce costs while successfully bringing people together to meet business objectives.

    Pauline Quéré, CWT vice president, Global Customer Product Marketing, offered this perspective on this advanced form of video conferencing at the time the product launched:

    “Telepresence is state-of-the-art technology that can help companies cut travel costs without compromising their business objectives…Meetings can be conducted more often, bringing more people together quickly and easily for greater collaboration. Telepresence can also increase contacts with clients and business partners outside of the company. And a better work-life balance for employees, coupled with a more sustainable impact on the environment, are also important. These are all reasons why CWT is eager to help clients successfully integrate telepresence into their managed travel programs,” she said.

    While there are many benefits to forgoing a lengthy and/or expensive business trip, much can be lost when interacting with a colleague or client solely through a computer screen.  We e-mail and sit on conference calls all day long, but a full, in-person work session complete with live dialogue and human interaction can often lead to higher productivity, not to mention team building that can only come from sitting in the same room as another colleague.

    CWT is offering the CWT Telepresence product as an alternative to face-to-face meetings, while still recognizing the value of in-person sessions, but do you think that video conferencing will ever replace a significant percentage of face-to-face meetings?

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