Remember when the Segway was announced? The buzz was that it would “revolutionize the way people commute!” Right. The modern Segway will take you about 12 miles before it runs out of juice and it can’t go faster than about 12 miles per hour. That sounds like a great golf cart to me, or a vehicle for mall cops to coast around in, but it will hardly revolutionize my commute.
I don’t believe that video and web conferencing will make business travel extinct any more than I believed that super high-resolution monitors and e-mail would reduce the reams of paper that come spewing out of printers every day. Ask your mailman how the new “paperless society” is working out for him…
People have been predicting the end of business travel for decades and it certainly hasn’t affected my travel schedule very much. Salesmen will always want to conduct their business face to face. It’s tough to take a client to dinner or to help make them feel comfortable via a video screen in a cold conference room. Also, people are much more formal when they’re talking in front of larger groups so there will always be a need for some business travel. People need to get away from their office to concentrate on business project migrations, new business involvement, classroom environments, and client business sites, and they’ll need to travel to do it.
Recently, my company has done everything in their power to migrate our technical training classrooms to the internet. The expenses for a dozen traveling trainers is more than $25,000 per week, so even if their classrooms are full and revenue is pouring in, it’s a significant amount of money to consider. So inevitably, some travel will be reduced. I teach classes for a living and I’ve seen my travel decrease a little bit, now that we have virtual classrooms. Looking at the surveys I hand out at the end of the class, there are many indications by students that they don’t learn very well in a “virtual” environment so I believe things will swing around and I’ll start traveling more often. Here are some pros and cons:
Pro: A virtual classroom opens a class to the entire globe.
Con: If students from
Pro: Virtual classrooms have electronic “books” and don’t have to spend money on paper manuals
Con: Students are on their own to take notes and to build their own body of reference material.
There are other issues to consider. I don’t care how important your meeting, classroom, or other event may be, hosting via a webinar gives the attendees an opportunity to leave. If, for example, your DBA needs to take a new class in “Database Design,” then you need to send them AWAY from their current environment if you expect them to learn anything. If they’re at their desk, they’re “available” to their peers for regular local work. I’ve had countless students in virtual classrooms “disappear” for hours at a time during class. At the end of the week, they’re upset and they indicate on their surveys that “this class taught me very little and was a waste of my time.” Really? You weren’t even here!
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.