Because getting there is not fun.

But will the big screen show the strip clubs in the background?

Mon, 2009/08/10 - 14:28 by aargh

Compared to air travel, videoconferencing has much lower variable costs, avoids ancillary costs such as hotel stays, and doesn't require participants to get a free glove exam by airport security.

Which is why, every once in a while, people ask whether videoconferencing will kill business air travel.

They asked this question during the dot-com heyday, after 9/11, and I'd swear it has come up several times since then. Just recently, a blog on Harvard Business Review posed the question once more.

(Mind you, no one's asking me -- I'm not that important. But since they pose the question I may as well answer.)

So, will it? Will videoconferencing largely overtake face-to-face meetings, to the point of swallowing business air travel?

No, it will not.

So long as people want to see exotic locales on the company dime,

So long as there are fat businessmen looking to hit strip clubs and claim it was at the client's request,

biz travel will live on.

(Let's pretend that the businesses stop collapsing upon themselves and continue to exist long enough to send people around.)

Videoconferencing will likely eat some of air travel's market share for people jaunting between different offices of the same company. But let's face it, there are some aspects of business that the human animal insists on doing in person. And in seedy bars. And far away from anything that could lead to the conversation being replayed in a courtroom. But let's not worry about that.

Now, granted, there are quite a few deals that take place online or by phone. The modern age of technology has opened up a new class of professional, one who needs just a laptop, a mobile phone, and a coffee shop to do their do. These people and their parent companies are increasingly comfortable not seeing their coworkers in-person. And I'd say these are people who weren't going to fly anyway.

But that brings up new questions:

Given the pace of communications technology, will something come along and eat videoconferencing's lunch? That is, will the full-blown videoconference -- with its big brand names and requirement of an established physical location for the hardware -- yield the floor to something newer and more nimble and with a cute name that ends in some consonant followed by a letter R?

As this new hyper-wired generation sets the tone for the next era of working, will business travel atrophy as its current clientele fades away without a replacement?

If so, does that mean I can look forward to a plane trip that doesn't involve loudmouthed salesman barking into their earpieces? Please let me know. I can hardly wait.