Video Conferencing: What Role for Travel Managers?

You’ve all seen the pressure to reduce travel costs, and the corresponding interest in video conferencing.  The question I’m wrestling with is this:  Where does the travel manager fit in with the effort to cut travel via virtual meetings?

Several of us will pick this issue up in a session* at the NBTA Convention next month.  Meanwhile, here are my early views – subject to change with your feedback.

The key stakeholders in video/virtual conferencing are the meeting owner, the participants and their travel budget owners, the meeting planner, and the IT/Facilities folks.

I don’t yet see the travel manager as a key stakeholder.  So what’s the TM’s role, if any? Try these two on for size:

  • Cost Reduction Champion.  Promote the use of video conferencing wherever practical.  Make it easy for travelers to see cost and availability of video conference rooms.
  • Contingency Planner.  Ensure that meeting planners and travelers know of video conference facilities as a back-up in case of travel disruptions.

It seems to be a simple matter of expertise and involvement.  Most travel managers don’t have the subject matter expertise, nor are they key stakeholders.  Not to say that these are must-have requirements for someone to manage a function, but then why not also ask the TM to manage cell phones and the corporate e-mail system?  Those are communication and collaboration tools, and they impact travel costs.

Asking a travel manager to manage video conferencing as a new area of responsibility seems inefficient.  So what is the right/best way for travel managers to be involved in this arena?  Your thoughts will be appreciated!

*Details of the NBTA Education Session in Houston on Monday, August 9 at 10:25 a.m.

MB7 – Maximize the Meeting, Minimize the Miles: Visual Conferencing as a Travel Alternative

Presented by the GLP Designation Team

Moderator: Cindy Gillen, CCTE, C.P.M., Director, Procurement & Travel, BDO Seidman, LLP

Presenters: Scott Gillespie, Principal, KSG Holdings; Suzanne Neufang, General Manager, GetThere; Ralph Randle, CCTE, Worldwide Travel Manager, Logitech

Get an inside look at the successes companies are having today using desktop, video and telepresence technologies in place of travel for small internal meetings of 30 or less. Policies, deployment, compliance and more – what are the emerging best practices? Can it work in your company? Attendees will get insight and information to take home and implement ensuring delivery of your Return on Objectives (ROOs).

2 thoughts on “Video Conferencing: What Role for Travel Managers?

  1. Hi Scott, this is a very timely post. In the corporate environment we are all tasked with cost savings and possibly the most efficient travel cost savings is not to travel. I have, within the past few months, initiated conversations with my corporate IT organization to develop an IntrAnet meetings portal. After all, isn’t travel just a means to engage in a meeting. The early concept of the portal would incorporate internal scheduling of audio, video conferencing, and Telepresence sites. It would provide a link to the corporate online booking tool and contact information for the TMC. It may even incorporate the ability to schedule all internal conference rooms. Eventually it could provide the ability to link to a third party that would assist with audio, video, and Telepresence b2b conferencing. This concept would direct all individuals in the company to one site so that they would have all/every option when making their meeting logistic choices, and the guidance to direct folks in the most efficient direction. Unfortunately this concept is in its infancy, so I don’t have any experience to share. Anyone else considering this concept?

    So to answer your question; Maybe the right/best way to be involved is to become the expert on why people travel, partner with other individuals/organizations within your company and initiate conversation and brainstorming that generates innovative ideas.

    • Hi Ron,

      What a logical and comprehensive view you’ve outlined – great stuff, and thanks for sharing! Like you, I’m keen to see how others have made progress in this area.

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