The $228 billion expense

Thursday, March 10 2011

Every day, business executives, salespeople and other mobile members of corporations around the world hop on trains, cars and jet planes. Companies understand the importance of face-to-face time, whether to meet clients on the other side of the world, to visit office branches or to attend trade shows.

In 2010, Americans alone took 427 million corporate trips, according to the Global Business Travel Association. This accounted to $228 billion in business expenses. Add to that millions of gallons of fuel used, tons of carbon monoxide emitted and hours wasted inside cramped, germy trains and planes and it almost doesn't seem to be worth it.

Fortunately, tree huggers aren't the only ones complaining about the effects of corporate travel. Businesses themselves are seeing that some traveling is just unnecessary and that alternatives like videoconferencing can be used to cut costs and improve green initiatives.

The technology allows two or more parties to communicate through high-tech computer devices from the comfort of their offices or homes. Videoconferencing can be done instantaneously, eliminating lags in decision-making from the time it would've taken to travel, thus increasing productivity while lowering expenses.