Videoconferencing credited for diverting business travel

Remember in the starry-eyed early 2000s when the next decade of advances in video conferencing, online collaboration, and broadband connectivity would greatly reduce the need to travel anywhere for business? Well it hasn’t quite panned out to be as dramatic a change as we thought, but the hotel industry is continuing to watch technology trends closely to see how it might impact its bottom line.

More than eight out of 10 business travelers say they will be doing more or the same amount of business travel in 2013 as the previous year, according to a survey released Feb. 19 by the Hotel Association of Canada. Overall business and leisure travel was up two per cent for 2012.

But when those business travelers who say they will be playing road warrior less often in 2013 are asked why, technology does enter into the equation. The most-often cited reason is the cost of air fare in Canada at 31 per cent, and the second is use of tele/video conferencing at 23 per cent. You have to wonder how related these factors are though – will those travelling less because of costs be supplementing that travel with videoconferencing instead?

The survey also examines trends in social media and smartphone use, such as what apps travelers like to use while on the road. (It’s nothing too surprising, they look at the weather and go on Facebook.) About 60 per cent of travelers carry a smartphone with them.

When asked what they’d like to see in a mobile app for a hotel, travelers said they’d like to find a hotel’s location, book a room, check their reservation, call customer service, and link to the full Web site.

It’s interesting to see another traditional industry grappling with technology and examining its impacts – both positive and negative – with a customer survey. If hotels learn that video conferencing is becoming popular enough to divert away potential customers, perhaps it could partner with technology vendors to offer a video conferencing capability in its business work spaces or in a separate room.

Plus, all hotels should provide free Wi-Fi included in its rooms.

Source | Hotel Association of Canada


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