A major cost of starting up or expanding a business is the price of organising and attending meetings with clients and colleges. What’s more, the vast amount of travel involved in attending these events, especially those held abroad, makes it hard for companies to meet growing demands to minimise their negative impact on the environment. Nevertheless, holding effective meetings is an essential part of running any successful business; as the Icelandic volcanic cloud proved when it grounded all flights, companies can grind to a halt when these conferences become impossible.
Effective conferences and meetings are expensive, time consuming and damaging to the environment, yet they are essential for successful business and, in the greater scheme of things, the economy. As a new business with a relatively unstable or irregular turnover, finding the time and money to invest in these events is a challenge that is not easily overcome. Whether it’s the financial cost of finding travel, accommodation and food for employees sent to conferences, or the under-staffing caused by having people away from the office for days on end, the overall impact of attending a conference can be devastating for a new company struggling to balance the books.
However, in the modern age of technology, this doesn’t have to be the case. When the volcanic cloud made gathering for conferences impossible, business across the UK dealt with the problem by turning to what should have been an obvious alternative from the beginning – video conferencing. While the ash cloud grounded all flights, one served office provider saw as much as a 230% increase in the number of companies using video conferencing technology to communicate with clients and colleges! A spokesperson for the company said of the incident that it had been “a wakeup call for businesses on their dependence on air travel, which let us not forget is costly on both tight budgets and effective working time as well as damaging to the environment.”
What is perplexing is why it took a volcanic eruption to prompt companies to take up video conferencing as an alternative to physical meetings. Eliminating the costs of travel and accommodation, as well as the need to spend time away from work, video conferencing has already been used by savvy businesses for years. For the price of a webcam and a decent internet connection, both new and established companies can hold daily conferences with clients and customers all across the world, without having to stretch their budget to pay for air fares and hotels. Where establishing a client basis used to be a long and arduous process that consumed the majority of the first few years of income, it can now be as simple as a series of emails and a brief video call from the office.
In these days of economic recession and budget cuts, every company should be making efforts to reduce their overheads as much as possible. With travel costs being a large part of many companies’ outgoings, replacing physical meetings with video conferences is as obvious and effective a means of saving money as a company could hope to find. Moreover, new companies starting out in these tough times need to ensure they keep start-up costs to an absolute minimum, to reduce the amount of money they need to persuade the banks to lend them. By slashing the funds required to establish and maintain client relations, new companies will now only save money when they get started, they will also guarantee their business proposal is more likely to be accepted in the first place!
The volcanic cloud helped business in the UK discover the benefits of video conferencing. Hopefully now they will keep at it, to improve their chances of weathering the economic storm that lies ahead.