by Brendan M. Lynch | August 01, 2005
VideoconferencingIn the wake of 9/11, widely held anxiety over jet travel inspired installation of videoconferencing technology at meeting facilities and corporate offices around the world. Why board a jet and fly to meetings, the reasoning went, when faces could be seen, voices heard and documents shared through technology?
    Now that business travel has largely bounced back from those post-9/11 doldrums, though, there has been hardly a peep about videoconferencing. Is anyone still using all those high-tech facilities?
    Not at New York City-based design engineering firm Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade & Douglas. The firm recently scrapped all 31 of its global videoconferencing sites, because employees preferred to share their work directly from their computers, using Internet applications, says Suzanne Puccino, vice president and director of corporate services.
    Use of videoconferencing has decreased in recent years at many conference centers, too, says a spokesperson for Montvale, N.J.-based Dolce International. Given their druthers, she says, businesspeople prefer in-person meetings over videoconferencing, because “overall travel budgets have increased and there’s more confidence in travel. They need face-to-face meetings and team-building activities.”
    There’s been a dip in videoconferencing at some Aramark Harrison  conference centers as well. “Our videoconferencing suite is for a small number of clients,” says Bob Johns, general manager of Aramark Harrison’s Babson Executive Conference Center in Wellesley, Mass. “If we have 30 programs a week, maybe we’ll see one or two that use videoconferencing every three weeks. It’s useful technology, but we know nothing is going to replace face-to-face meetings. Frankly, we’re thankful for that.”