Do you remember the first time you ever used a credit card to pay for gas at the pump? I do. I was really nervous, since the technology was brand new. I remember scanning the card, pushing the right buttons, getting gas, and waiting impatiently for a printed receipt so I’d have “proof” that this transaction took place! Now, that technology is so commonplace, we don’t think anything about buying gas at 2am when an attendant isn’t even working. We scan our credit/debit cards for anything and everything from a 75 cent pack of gum at a convenience outlet to a $1,000 patio furniture set at our local warehouse store.
I’m not an early adopter when it comes to technology. When new technology becomes sound, practical, predictable, and reliable, I’ll use it to death; but you won’t find me among the first in line to shell out thousands of dollars for a new plasma TV just as soon as they’re introduced. Don’t get me wrong, I have as many electronic gadgets as the next traveler, I just tend to be a bit old-fashioned when it comes to my approach to them.
As an old-fashioned traveler, I tend to want to be face to face with clients, rather than pixel to pixel with them over a video or teleconference. The technology is starting to win this battle though, due to better video conferencing software, and one other small thing; cost! Companies are cutting their travel budgets and they are saving literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process by having their “face to face” meetings electronically.
I’m a traveling technical trainer. Honestly, I feel that students get the biggest value for their money when they get to see and interact with a live instructor. They get to come in early or stay late, or practice their lab exercises with a person sitting beside them and guiding them through their work. My company has recently rolled out a new way of teaching called the LVC (Live Virtual Classroom). Personally, I’m not a fan. It offers students a web address to log into and they can see a virtual classroom via web conference technology. We use Powerpoint slides instead of a whiteboard, and students are assigned a remote desktop of a computer to use to do their lab exercises.
This format has its advantages and disadvantages. Glitches in the software you use for the webinar can make you look at bit “lost” or unprepared. Also, it seems as though no matter how well prepared you are, the first 15 minutes of any web conference is wasted with people dialing in late or leaving their phones unmated or constantly asking, “Can you hear me?” or “Are you there?” Clients from different countries can save thousands by dialing in, rather than flying in, but they may have to sacrifice a night’s sleep to join a conference hosted in the
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether an actual live trip in the flesh is merited over a quick teleconference or webinar. Money is becoming more and more of an issue and the software is making great strides in its dependability. My advice is, try it out with of your more trusted colleagues or clients. It may suit you and save you some money.
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.