Virtual Success

Here’s an item from today’s New York Times, “As Travel Costs Rise, More Meetings Go Virtual”:
“Corporate training and education is a field many companies are moving online, in part to trim travel costs. Darryl Draper, the national manager of customer service training for Subaru of America, used to travel four days a week, nine months of the year, presenting educational programs at dealers nationwide. Today, Ms. Draper rarely travels and nearly all of her training is done online.
“Previously, Ms. Draper estimated, in six months she would reach about 220 people at a cost of $300 a person. She said she now reaches 2,500 people every six months at a cost of 75 cents a person.”

Brave new world.

The “virtual meetings” suites are becoming more common (Accenture is creating a couple of hundred to eliminate tens of millions in travel expenses) and much more user-friendly every day. Many people say that, two minutes into the meeting, they forget the other parties aren’t actually physically in the room.

By using technology you can reduce your labor intensity as well as increase your revenues. You can personally obtain software as well and/or rent or borrow facilities.

• Virtual meeting environments
• Webinars
• Teleconferences
• Podcasts
• Video on the web and on DVD
• Downloadable courses complete with A/V
• Fax-on-demand
• Email coaching with guaranteed response time
• Phone coaching with guaranteed response time
• Conference calling (there are free sites)

You get the idea. Nothing beats face-to-face communication, perhaps (and certainly not in the marketing process), but you don’t always need the ideal, do you? You may want to travel for excitement, enrichment, and opportunity, and that’s fine. But there are fewer reasons why you must these days.

Organizations are drastically reducing their travel, even with their own customers, so there’s no reason why they wouldn’t expect similar relationships with their consultants. After all, shouldn’t you be state-of-the-art?

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “Virtual Success

  1. I don’t see virtual meetings replacing get on the plane and endure airport security to press flesh meetings anytime soon.

    I’ve often wondered why the many blogging conventions are not held “virtually”. I mean, if you can’t get BLOGGERS to forgo plane fares and hotel rooms, who can you sell on that idea?

    The only thing I can think of is that people must like having a reason to get up and go.

  2. Whether you “see it” or not is neither here nor there, since the news media are reporting factual reductions in company travel and the installation of virtual alternatives. You need to read the newspapers. What you miss about bloggers is that a convention is the exception to their daily fare of online communication. It’s the exception, not the rule. Have you been reading that business travel is down for some time now?

    If you want real irony, one of the “global warming” conferences had to be cancelled because of an ice storm.

  3. In fact, we have held an anniversary celebration and virtual holiday party every year using this technology, bringing colleagues together from all over the world who otherwise would never “meet” and have a toast together.

  4. I think it’s more than just the webinars and meetings that people won’t be going to. I’m seeing more and more people who are working from home even though they live in the same city as the home office. It saves them the hassel of dealing with traffic, most are more productive as there are fewer distractions, office rent can be pared back and the company doesn’t have to buy the coffee.

    I’ve seen at least a couple companies “send their people home” recently.

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