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Travel Industry Turnaround: Will Business Travelers Go Back to Old Ways?

January 26, 2011
at 10:57 pm PST

During the economic downturn, many companies tightened the strings on travel and opted for alternate ways to connect and collaborate with partners, customers and colleagues.  As a result, the airline industry was forced to adapt to the increasingly competitive air travel market by lowering the cost of flights and cutting the number of flights offered. However, as we start to see signs of economic recovery, we’re also starting to see signs indicating the travel industry is bouncing back.  In fact, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently said passenger airlines in Q3 2010 saw their highest profit margins since 2001. According to the report, several factors contributed to the sudden turnaround, including the growing demand, new fees to check luggage and rising ticket prices for domestic travelers.

What will be interesting to see is how this recovery affects those who have now started to use and embrace alternatives to travel, such as telepresence.  Research shows that when people use telepresence, they are much more likely to recognize and value the benefits than those who have never used it.  Additionally, the overwhelming majority (90 percent) of frequent users (those who use telepresence once or more per week) say the technology saves them at least 2 hours of valuable work time a week—yet only 33 percent of nonusers believe they could save any time using the technology. These results demonstrate a significant gap between user and nonuser perceptions.

That said, it will be interesting to see if those who have now embraced telepresence and video collaboration technologies will revert to their “old” ways, spending hours on planes traveling around the world to meet with partners/customers/colleagues face-to-face, or whether their face-to-face experience with telepresence has transformed their way of thinking and working.  As an avid user of telepresence, I know I personally would have a hard time going back to the old ways of doing business, but am curious to hear from you.

What do you think?  If you had a choice, would you go back to flying for business or have you embraced the new way of working?

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