Teleconferencing can ease travel budget burden

Written by Louis A. Corsaro, Assistant Managing Editor

For Collier-based E-Safe Technologies Inc., installing teleconferencing systems for companies can be a simple process.

Vice President Bruce Thompson noted that, as long as the company has a decent internal technological system, putting in teleconferencing software is a quick and painless procedure. And with U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently releasing new data that shows Pittsburgh saw a 13.6 percent jump in airfares for the first quarter of 2012 over the previous year, Thompson said companies can ease some of the financial pain by learning more about what teleconferencing offers.

When airfares jump as much as they did in the first quarter, how big is the impact on a company that travels a lot?

There’s a couple answers to that. Some of the smaller to midsized companies have blown through their travel budgets halfway through the year. Then, I think, some of the bigger firms that we deal with – they are still sending folks, but they are seeing at least a 25 percent increase on where they thought they would be.

So the effect is far greater in the short term on smaller companies.

Yes. The Big ones can naturally allocate different dollars to make up the difference. But the smaller firms, you basically go into the year with X amount.

What can companies do to be prepared for the fluctuation in price?

I think going into the year, they do their best judgements. You take a sampling of last year going to the towns where you have clients. But at the end of the day, you’re at the mercy of the airfares and where the jump to. You can only do so much forecasting. I think that’s the tough part, when jump, and you’re not able to plan out some meetings a month in advance – you’re in total reaction mode.

Has teleconferencing advanced enough where it can replace face-to-face meetings in most cases?

Yes, absolutely. The teleconferencing technology has improved to the point where it literally feels as though you’re in the room with them, both from voice data prospect and image prospects. …It is literally like you’re sitting in the same room as these folks.

Are some companies having on to the idea of shaking hands in person?

There’s some industries out there – manufacturers and old-school folks who don’t utilize or maximize their technology offered to them.

If there’s an intercompamy meeting where you’re just trying to get some offices together, you can be more flexible with it. From a business perspective, if you’re trying to close a multimillion-dollar deal, there’s still value to being in front of those folks. But maybe you’re saving it and going out there for a final presentation and handshakes.

Lou Corsaro is assistant managing editor at the Pittsburgh Business Times. Contact him at lcorsaro@bizjournals.com or (412) 208-3822.