June 22, 2018

Travel costs can quickly mount for many companies, so you may want to look into videoconferencing as a way to keep the spending down and the bottom line solid.

Surveys put the cost of the average domestic business trip at around $1,000, including air, car and hotel, while international trips run a little over $3,500. And that’s only part of the picture — the trips take staff members away from the job for an average three to seven days. As a result, more and more companies are focusing on video technology. Once relegated to the boardrooms of the Fortune 500, lower price tags and improved technology are bringing the web cam into smaller businesses.

Drawbacks of the Future 

Psychological. You may need to train people to change the way they think about meetings and make them aware that this new technology provides the same benefits as most face-to-face gatherings.For some top-level discussions and sensitive negotiations, live interaction remains critical. And, of course, some customers will insist on being able to look you in the eye during a business deal. Sometimes, people just want the human touch and a handshake.

Technological. There are still flaws. Like cell phones, the effectiveness can sometimes be spotty and disconcerting. Monitors often have split screens and new users might be distracted by their own image. Delayed audio can make conversations seem awkward and frame speeds can produce  images that look robotic and jerky.If you want to trim your company’s travel budget, boost productivity or improve staff communication, zoom in on videoconferencing. Here are five considerations you can put a price tag on.

1. Travel costs. Include airfare, hotels, car rentals, taxis, meals and entertainment. Then, factor in the cost of unproductive time, including hours spent scheduling and preparing. You get the picture. The savings can be enormous.

2. Strategic gains. Video meetings can help you accelerate the development of new products and the time it takes to bring them to market. Technology lets you gather the right people, make prompt decisions, resolve problems quickly, increase response time and perform joint research — all at a moment’s notice.

3. Set-up costs. Videoconferencing systems vary in complexity and quality with prices ranging from the mid to upper hundreds of dollars to high-end systems in the tens of thousands. Add to that the cost of a high-bandwidth Internet connection.

4. Productivity. Many companies say the real payoff is the gain in productivity — less downtime, broader staff participation, increased staff communication, less fatigue, a higher quality of life for the staff, more frequent meetings and a decrease in the amount of work that builds up during travel absences.

5. Broad applications. Among the many uses to be considered, videoconferencing lets you set up “virtual” teams regardless where the employees are located, cutting the upheaval and costs of relocation. Crisis management becomes more efficient. And the hassle and expense of job interviews can be trimmed. One company said it saved $300,000 and 20 days in travel costs and time by using the technology to interview job candidates. Videoconferencing can also be used for staff training and company-wide speeches.

Whatever your needs, it’s worth looking at this technology and discussing it with your staff, technology advisors and customers. You may find yourself sharpening the resolution of your business dealings and putting your company on fast forward — at a fraction of the cost you pay now.

© 2018