Telepresence robs travel industry

Telepresence will soon snatch $3.5 billion (€2.7 billion) from the travel and hospitality industry each year, according to technology research and advisory firm Gartner. By 2012, the company predicts, 2.1 million airline seats will be replaced by videoconferencing as cash conscious companies and rapidly developing technologies boost the appeal of video meeting solutions. The announcement came as part of Gartner’s top ten predictions for 2009.

Speaking at the annual Gartner Predicts 2009 briefing in Sydney, Gartner Fellow Steve Prentice said companies must educate themselves on the scope and capabilities of telepresence systems. He said companies must “revisit” the need for face-to-face meetings due to economic conditions.

"Telepresence is not the answer in every circumstance and there will always be strong cultural and other reasons for face to face encounters, particularly in Asia. But not every meeting needs to be face to face and there is no doubt that telepresence and other approaches to virtual collaboration such as Immersive Workspace, which is built on top of Second Life, or yet to be released solutions will provide a real alternative for many businesses. Companies should put aside previous prejudices and bad memories of older video-conferencing services and seriously investigate these new technologies."