Report: Virtual meetings growing at 80% of firms

The use of virtual meetings has grown at 80 percent of companies, according to a recent report from Carson Wagonlit Travel’s Travel Management Institute.

The report, based on a survey of over 1,800 people in companies around the world, showed that the most popular virtual meeting platforms are video conferences, Web-based meetings, and telepresence, in that order.

Telepresence involves the use of dedicated conferencing equipment — a high-end version of a video call. According to the report, the number of telepresence rooms installed at companies has grown from an estimated 2,000 globally in 2008 to around 3,500 in 2009.

Moreover, the number of rooms installed in hotels and other public spaces in forecast to rise from dozen or so in 2009 to about 100 in 2010 as more providers enter the market, according to the report.

(Data source: Travel Management Institute)

According to the report`s authors, technological development and increasing cost pressures have contributed to the strong growth in the use of virtual meetings and events.

The survey result in the report shows that virtual meeting solutions are best used for small meetings and simple events that have fewer than 20 to 30 attendees and require relatively little interaction between participants. Other than that, shorter meetings are generally easier to conduct virtually than longer ones.

According to the CWT survey, 68 percent of meeting and event planners see the potential for virtual meeting solutions to replace some small meetings, 50 percent see them as replacing simple events, and 21 percent for  special events over the next few years.

However, the event attendees surveyed have a different take. A slightly smaller number – 57 percent — think that virtual meetings could replace small meetings. Meanwhile, 52 percent things that virtual meetings cannot replicate the quality of face-to-face meetings in terms of attention and interaction between participants. And 82 percent thing that virtual meetings are no substitute for large events because of the lack of in-person contact.'