Balancing Budgets Without Losing Touch

Balancing Budgets Without Losing Touch

Submitted by Dori Schmitz, Director of Sales & Marketing

According to a new survey of travel managers by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), 75% said their companies have imposed new restrictions on employees for attending professional conferences meetings or seminars of the 75%, three quarters of them said their companies stopped reimbursing employees for registration fees; 35% said their companies now deny employees both registration fee reimbursement and time away from the office, and 13% said their companies now require employees to use personal time to attend these types of these events.

So in a nutshell, many employees are finding themselves having to pay for their own professional education and some are even having to use their own time or vacation time to pursue these endeavors. It seems counterproductive when the content of and knowledge gained from professional meetings and seminars benefits not only the employee, but also the employer, not to mention the industry or sector as a whole. Nonetheless, in today's business climate, the almighty dollar wins out as companies are forced to look for places to cut budgets and "do more with less."

The pervading conundrum is how do organizations keep their members and employees up to date and well-informed while limiting financial investment and the loss of productivity associated with time away from the office? In today's techno-drenched world, options abound., and employees are more open to media-based communication than ever.

While many companies are embracing social media like Twitter and LinkedIn for informal communication, we at SCS and Absolute Conference have seen professional organizations like the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) using a combination of satellite conferencing and webstreaming to offer CME accredited courses to their membership. During a recent Microsoft webcast, we did a backhaul to Seattle via on-site video streaming. In addition to the live webcast, video was archived for later viewing by employees that could not attend or log into the live program. One of our other clients, a major investment company in New York regularly uses ISDN and IP public rooms to enable their executives to communicate with their worldwide counterparts and clients.

All of these organizations have balanced the need for information and meetings with the call to reduce budgets and keep participants closer to home. After a few hours members, clients, and employees can return to their offices and immediately implement the newly acquired information. Additionally, as people are seeking to balance work and life, avoiding days of travel has become very attractive to employees. For organizations, the high costs and environmental impact associated with travel are traded for cost efficient video communications and increased productivity. For those that need to pay for their own meetings, this translates into lower participation costs, vastly reduced travel costs, and less unpaid time off the job. Sounds like a win-win solution!