Virtual Meetings And Your Carbon Footprint

I read a story in today's Toronto Globe & Mail that captures perfectly both sides of the coin when deciding to meet virtually versus face-to-face. Seems David Suzuki, a noted Canadian environmentalist, has given up plane travel to Australia -- where he's in much demand for speaking engagements -- because the trips leave a huge carbon footprint. Instead, he's been substituting with video presentations, and he'll soon install telepresence technology at his Vancouver-based foundation.

The story also talked about the growth of desktop video conferencing, the kind that runs on the web versus proprietary bandwidith. And a Gartner analyst noted that he "increasingly sees firms making video-conferences an option" within their travel booking systems, requiring travelers to justify why a face-to-face is necessary.

A Wall Street Journal article in July said that, in this recessionary economy, of all tech, only virtual tech is growing. A lot of companies have elected to leverage virtual meetings tech  post-recession to continue saving on travel and meetings. So, if you haven’t investigated owning your company’s virtual technology strategy and/or policy creation, you should get to it. When the dust settles, you want to have virtual technology as part of your travel and meeting portfolio. Remember my concept of Enterprise Mobility? That's the new travel/meetings business you will be managing in the future.
I've frequently said that these virtual meeting tools are well suited for some type of events and, most importantly, should be managed within a company's overall strategic meetings management program. But I still believe that face-to-face events -- created with strong spending and policy guidelines -- are most rewarding for all involved, and good experiences at events produce great ROI. 

Apparently, a lot of Mr. Suzuki's clients feel the same. Near the end of the Globe & Mail story, Suzuki, who gets hundreds of requests for conference appearances, said that when he instead suggests a presentation over video, 19 out of 20 times the travel request persists.

I'm interested in your feedback and insights on face-to-face versus virtual meetings. Please share!

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management