Dear Road Warrior,
I am a consultant and spend the majority of my time meeting with C-level executives across the country to help them revamp business plans. As I am nearing retirement, frequent traveling is becoming exhausting and I would like to cut my travel schedule in half by conducting some meetings via HD video conferencing. Does VC provide the same genuine human interaction as meeting in-person? I don’t want my clients to suffer as a result of this choice. (In other words, I’m a traditional guy who believes in the power of the handshake. Technology can be scary and I fear change.)
– Sick of Flying in South Carolina
I certainly cannot blame you for your frustrations with business travel. It can take so much out of you! From the taxis and airports, to hotels, rentals cars and seriously bad food, I am surprised you haven’t retired already!
I am here to tell you some good news. There are people like you all over the world. Business travel isn’t fun for anyone and you are right, video conferencing is a fantastic replacement. In fact, entire companies have adopted video conferencing as its new method of communication and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses as a result of that choice.
However, your question isn’t asking about how much money you can save. You want to know if it will affect your client relationships. I guess I would have to say that is a judgment call. I have spoken to hundreds of businessmen and women who say that HD video calls have saved their sanity and improved quality of life. There are others out there who will say there is “nothing like a good, old-fashioned handshake”.
There are times where you must travel in order to get your work done. There are times when you don’t. Consider taking a hard look at your schedule to determine which is which. If there are times when video conferencing is appropriate, there are several affordable ways to ensure you have a high-quality, HD call to make the interaction as lifelike as possible.
My guess is that your C-level executive clients understand how exhausting traveling can be – they’ve done it and probably loathe it just as much as you, if not more so. Give them the option of a video call. You may be surprised with the positive response you receive. Change is good. Start small and see what happens.