The winter of 2009/2010 will long be remembered by business travellers as the winter from hell.  From industrial disputes to freak weather this winter has been a test for the business traveller.  It is times like these when businesses need to understand and adapt to using conference calls.

The threat of strike by British Airways cabin crew over Christmas and the New Year was the first domino to fall. In the end the strike didn’t happen after a court ruling questioned the legality of the ballot. However the damage had been done. In a state of panic, UK business travellers searched for alternative flight carriers to be met with limited availability and high prices.

The second domino was the when Eurostar trains got stuck in the Channel tunnel due to snow in Northern France. Between the 19th and the 24th of December a large number of services were cancelled, and those that were not, often had delays.  Once again this resulted in the business traveller frantically arranging alternative routes to mainland Europe in the hope of getting to that last meeting before Christmas.

To add insult to injury the snow came to the UK at around the same time.  Unexpected and unprepared, disruption was inevitable. Many of the UK’s airports suffered, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Cardiff, and Inverness. Worst hit was Luton, where Easyjet cancelled a day and a half of flight. Road travel was also significantly worse as the treacherous conditions got the better of many drivers. Cue frantic business travellers once again attempting to find other modes of transportation.

All of this has brought into question the over-reliance on travel for business travellers. Businesses need to understand the potential of the modern conference calling. Modern conference calls enable users to utilize web and video conferencing. As connection speeds increasingly quicken, the issue of the lag becomes less and less of an issue.  The grainy video pictures of old have been replaced with good-quality images.  You can even show your attendees visual aids if you are giving a presentation.  There is a lot to be said for a face-to-face meeting, but when Mother Nature decides to get involved modern conference call services provide an excellent alternative.