A new study revealed a disconnect between the declining value of business travel and its increasing use in Europe. On one hand, about a quarter of the executives surveyed plan to increase the volume of their business travel in 2011; on the other hand, one-third question whether the business gets the best value from their travel and say that many meetings that take them out of the office could be efficiently and effectively conducted by video conference. Many also report feelings of stress and admit to having missed family occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.
Conducted by Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of Polycom, a global leader in unified communications, the study sheds light on one reason behind the disconnect: about half of all short-haul domestic flights were for executives attending more “regular” meetings – meetings that could be successfully conducted by video conference for less cost, less time, less business disruption, and less family stress. And yet, the study found, a surprising number of companies – four in 10 – have not yet implemented video conferencing, a practice that many executives have found to be far more time and cost efficient.
In January and February 2011, Coleman Parkes interviewed 400 senior business executives across Europe from various industries at companies with more than 1,000 employees. The focus was on executives who travel frequently for business reasons. Respondents included Marketing Directors, CMOs, COOs, Operations Directors, Senior Consultants, Sales Directors, and CIOs.
Impact on Business
Half (51%) of all short-haul domestic business flights taken by executives were for regular meetings.
One-third (33%) of executives question whether the business gets the best value from their travel.
One-third (33%) say that many meetings they attend could be conducted by video conference.
Nearly half (45%) believe the business could save a lot of money by using video conferencing.
Four in 10 (40%) reported late arrival for an average of 2.5 meetings for the year because of travel-related delays.
Impact on Quality of Life
On average, a senior director of the companies studied took between seven and eight domestic flights for business and between six and seven international flights in 2010.
Executives spent an average of 13 days out of the office in 2010 taking short-haul flights.
Nearly one-third (30%) of executives spent three weeks out of the office in 2010 on business travel.
One-quarter of the executives interviewed reported feeling stressed by plane travel.
One in 10 said they had missed a wedding anniversary, and an equal proportion reported missing a child’s birthday.
By spotlighting the contrast between the shrinking value and growing use of business travel, as well as executives’ dissatisfaction with the current travel-intensive model of conducting business meetings, the study reveals a need for a better approach. Video conferencing and telepresence solutions from Polycom improve productivity and reduce travel expenses, disruption, and stress. The study suggests that companies can reap significant benefits by moving video conferencing higher up their IT priority lists.