This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

September 1, 2010

The Consequences of Virtual Meetings

No one can dispute the success of Telepresence* and the impressive increase in virtual meetings. Now, a surprising new study finds that over the next 10 to 15 years these virtual meetings media could replace up to 70 percent of internal travel and 10 percent of external travel. According to Bernstein Research, the result could lead to an aggregate reduction of 21 percent in corporate travel spending.

As the Bernstein report details, "Technical advances in video conferencing have moved the capability to an entirely new level over the last 18 months, so that it now has the potential to fundamentally impact business travel". According to the report, in the next 10 to 15 years, the United States telepresence or virtual meeting market will be worth US$30 billion. Small companies will be responsible for almost half of that amount.

As part of this shift to virtual, major hotel chains including Marriott and Starwood have begun offering telepresence suites in important business markets like Chicago and Hong Kong. Hilton will likely not be far behind. This trend will escalate in the near future. In many suites, the video screen actually curves around the table, enhancing the feeling for participants of being in the same room.

In another study, Forrester Research found in the past year 17 percent of US business travelers have used either videoconferencing or virtual presence to reduce their business travel. By the end of this year, a surprising 48 percent expect their employers will have policies in place regarding the use of videoconferencing and virtual presence to reduce the need for business travel.

The report also found that over the next five years about 30 percent of the estimated six to eight million conference rooms in the US will be telepresence-enabled.

One major impact of this reduction in travel will be on agents; they will need to find ways to remain relevant. Other groups that will be affected include the technology companies, including Cisco who will reap the financial benefits and the recruiters who will help the technology companies staff up to handle the additional business.

Professional speakers will need to gain new skills, learning to feel comfortable and connect with their audiences through the new technologies. Travel suppliers and meeting planners will have to find additional ways to add value to doing business with them.

*Developed by Cisco Systems, Telepresence is a type of teleconferencing that uses high-definition video and audio to create the illusion that meeting participants are sitting in the same room. Groups of participants may be across the globe from each other in separate "Telepresence suites".

**Joyce has personally delivered a presentation in one of these virtual formats with streaming video. For a replay of this presentation, visit http://www.telenect.com/u/2b4e66x3w0.


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