As someone who had to conform to the federal Joint Travel Regulations, I can appreciate the information in this article that tells us companies are combining tighter controls on travel spending with increased emphasis on videoconferencing.
I recall a United commercial that showed a bunch of business people sitting in a conference room when the boss said that one of their oldest clients fired them, because they had done business over the phone and by fax rather than as a personal visit. Given United's desires to have people fly rather than chat on the phone, the message was: go and go often to see all those clients!
The future may be in telepresence or some other remote video feeds, who can say?
Anyone get the "travel less" message recently?
That United commercial, which came out when i was in my twenties, has stuck with me throughout my business career because it continues to ring true. I both am a customer, and I have customers. We tend to have long-term >1 year projects so that may factor into my experience varying from others'.
Videoconferencing for my line of business is a very inefficient use of resources -- and the communications level oddly seems to be worse than a strictly voice telecon -- and so it only seems to be useful for short-notice or impromptu meeting where a problem needs to be discussed by a diverse (geographically) team and solved quickly.
I encourage my project managers to personally meet with our customers often to avoid the scenario described by the commercial. I also encourage them to visit our contractors often, which serves a dual purpose: 1) to better ensure that project progress is on the schedule that the vendor says it is. One facility visit is worth a thousand powerpoint slides. 2) we visit with the entire project team, not just the PM. The worker bees (and I mean that very respectfully) truly appreciate that their customer is not a faceless name, and cares.
I am fortunate in my position that I both allocate and manage our travel budget as well as approve travel and expenses, subject of course to the JTR which we have to follow as well.