In the current economic environment, businesses worldwide are tightening their belts in response to lower sales volumes. Locally, you may have a small business that’s been around for over 50 years closing down shop. On the national level, mainstream news coverage has major retailers and household names filing for bankruptcy. In the midst of the current crisis, companies are look at bottom line issues such as:
Protecting profit margins and achieving positive cash flow
Compensating for increased price of supplies and goods which translates to larger costs for the consumer
Maintaining productivity with a reduced or frozen workforce
Keeping good employees despite layoffs, frozen salaries and other reduced cost-reduction measures
Clearly, these are large challenges that require complex, indepth solutions. However, one piece of the puzzle that helps to solve all of these problems is travel reduction. Why does your company need to reduce travel? To answer this question, let’s first take a look at the monetary and morale costs of traveling:
- According to American Express, the average cost for a business trip in 2009 is expected to be more than $1000 a person.
- The Washington Post reported that flight delays cost the US economy $15 billion a year.
- 15% of business travelers surveyed said traveling made them less productive.
- More than 50% of business travelers admitted that some of their trips were not necessary.
- Constant business trips take a toll on employee flexibility, and flexibility is known to improve employees’ job performance and satisfaction.
It’s quite costly to travel. The alternative, of course, is to practice travel reduction within your organization. By doing so, your company can:
Save Time—did you really need to visit that vendor last week to listen to him talk about his favorite vacation destinations? Probably not. This example, tied in with the unprecedented number of delayed flights and traffic can be a cause for concern. Don’t waste your time traveling when you can be more productive at your desk.
Save Money—as I mentioned earlier, it’s expensive to travel for business. For smaller companies especially, $1000 a person means your trip had better be worth it. Conferencing offers you easy-to-use collaboration and communication tools for virtually pennies a minute. It’s a no-brainer.
Save the Environment—you don’t need to be extremely interested in the environment to appreciate this: According to The Ecopreneurist, if every small business owner in the United States conducted one teleconference in lieu of a domestic business trip, it would save $25.4 billion in travel expenses and 10.5 million tons of CO2 in just one year. And all you have to do is conduct your business as usual without getting in a car or on plane.
So how does this really work? How can you skip the trip and use conferencing instead? Let’s take a look at how departments within your organization could get the same things done using conferencing instead of traveling.
Leadership—instead of your company CEO going around to the different sales offices to communicate new company policies, dial up a reservationless audio conference in seconds.
Marketing—make sure your new product launch gets all the attention it deserves. Instead of traveling around the globe, contact the media and launch it using a web streaming solution. This is the best bang for your buck because it can be watched live from anywhere in the world. An archive can also be made available to watch at any time, so you get more out of it than you would by doing on-site presentations.
Operations—new processes need to go into effect right away? Not a problem when you use conferencing. Share all important data with stakeholders easily and effectively with a phone and web conference.
IT: Out of the main office and having issues with your computer or network? Let IT handle the job—no matter where you are—by accessing your system remotely.
Training—so your company just hired 10 new people across all your offices and you’re wondering how to teach them the ropes. Don’t fly them in to your main HQ to be trained; instead, conference them in to save time and money. There are many ways to ensure and test retention while conducting online training.
Sales—do your customers need to know how to navigate their new service over the net? It’s easy when you have them join a web conference. Simply send them a hyperlink and you can show them what they need to know with desktop sharing. You can even give them presenter status so that they can control the application in real time.
Human Resources—our operations department needs a new director and your best prospects are in different areas of the country. Don’t waste time bringing them all out to see you. Meet all prospects face-to-face with a video conference.
But, are there adverse effects to reducing travel? Below I’ve listed a few common concerns about not ‘being there’ for meetings. If you have others, we’d love to hear about them
Myth 1: You always need to be in front of your customer in order to take care of business.
Conferencing products were designed specifically to confront this problem. In a recent study, Wainhouse and InterCall determined that 56% of respondents felt that if more in-person meetings were replaced by conference calls, both parties would be able to get more done. Conferencing allows you to stay in your comfort zone and conduct meetings with anyone, anywhere. Simply dial a couple of numbers, make a few clicks… and meet.
Myth 2: Bringing a new technology to the workplace will slow down employees
Conferencing is extremely easy to use, which is why it’s such an invaluable tool. For example,InterCall Unified Meeting is as simple as a light switch. Most conferencing providers also offer free training so you can get up and running quickly.
Myth 3: It’s going to require a lot of time and energy to enact company-wide travel alternatives.
You don’t need to hire a private consultant to conduct a cost-benefits analysis. A great conferencing provider should have expert meeting consultants who can help you determine exactly what you need and exactly how you’d benefit.
All companies need to save money in order to do more with less, especially given the current economic conditions. If you have other ways to reduce travel, let’s discuss them below. Our meeting consultants would also be happy to assist you in developing a customized travel reduction plan for your company.
Daniel Carroll, is an Associate Marketing Manager and the company's resident competitive intel and market trends research guru. He earned a BBA in Marketing at Temple University. In his spare time he likes to swim, rollerblade and sample fine Italian cuisine.