By Mark Hubrich, VP Client & Industry Relations

virtual_meetingIn 2013, Meetings and travel policies within corporations are changing with the impact of virtual technologies in corporate travel planning. While I do believe that face to face meetings will always be valuable and important, there are new ways people are implementing technology solutions in their personal and professional interactions. High speed internet, WiFi, and the technologies associated with it are bringing change to the future. I recall a few years ago when SignUp4 implemented WebEx and Citrix into our sales and training processes as an efficient way to demonstrate our software to people across the country and even other parts of the world. I remember an exciting milestone for me personally was presenting our software through WebEx to the meeting planning division of an existing client in Singapore. After a phone call and a web demo from my home office(it was around midnight EST), we had 6 meeting planners halfway around the world using SignUp4.

Today the change I am seeing is that tools like FaceTime from Apple and TelePresence from Cisco are being utilized more and more in the business world. One client out of Texas uses FaceTime with their meetings department personnel as a way to communicate while their planners may be traveling and located in different cities executing their events or on site tours. With weekly FaceTime meetings with their department director, they can keep in touch easily and more personal than a phone call. For myself personally, I much prefer to FaceTime my friends and relatives today rather than call them on the phone. Another client which is a global conglomerate based in Ohio, is using TelePresence technology to meet virtually with their foreign office locations.  Through the use of Cisco hardware and high speed access they can video conference their Paris, Boston, Tokyo, and Cincinnati office all together at one time. This tool is reducing their enterprise travel and hotel spend significantly. Just as the tablet and the smart phone have changed the way we work, virtual technologies are having an impact and driving efficiencies and cost savings and will continue this trend throughout the year.