Here comes the video conferencing boom

Gas is high. Airlines are nickel and diming you to death.

Gas is high. Airlines are nickel and diming you to death. And your employees are getting squeezed. This state of travel could put video conferencing over the top.

We've all heard this video conferencing rap before. It goes like this. Video conferencing is like a real-life meeting without the travel and the budget that goes along with it. And that pitch is almost true in many respects, but you can't hang out at the pub via a video link.

However, I was skeptical as the press releases touting the oil-video conferencing link began to proliferate. Exhibit A:

June 11, 2008

No bags, no surcharges: "Fly" for Free with LifeSize

High definition video delivers highest ROI and drives improved business performance

Austin, Tex. - June 11, 2008 - Business travel keeps getting harder. Airlines are grounding planes, offering fewer flights and collecting new surcharges for fuel, checked bags and weekday flights, making air travel less convenient and more expensive than ever.

More and more, businesses are turning to LifeSize for a powerful and cost-effective way to avoid business travel - with no lines, no delays, and no surcharges.

"While rising ticket prices and new surcharges are driving up the cost of air travel, most companies can make perfect high definition video calls on their existing broadband network with zero incremental cost," said Colin Buechler, LifeSize Senior Vice President of Marketing. "High definition video delivers cost savings immediately and boosts productivity quickly. It is the best investment you can make with your IT dollar - or your travel budget."

Today's video communications solutions address the most pressing issue in business communication: the need to be present. This need to connect is so powerful, that people continue to travel despite the delays and cost, because the phone and email aren't enough to stay in sync with customers, partners and colleagues around the world. But with solutions from LifeSize Communications, the global leader in high definition video communications, you can be there while still being here.

That's all true I suppose, but boy does is that release gimmicky.

I chuckled over that release just a few days ago. And then US Airways, the airline I usually fly out of Philly hits me with this:

US Airways Accelerates Business Model Transformation

A more accurate headline would be:

US Airways Screwed Because of High Fuel Costs

But I digress. US Airways is just trying to stay in the air. Here's the transformation in brief:
  • A first-checked bag fee of $15 (is there a refund when US Airways loses my bag)? On the bright side, military folks don't have to pay the fee.
  • A $2 charge for water, soda, coffee and juice.
  • 1,700 layoffs and reduced capacity.

Add that up and I see poor morale, a charge for really bad coffee (they should pay you) and grumpy passengers.

The video conferencing is looking better by the minute.

Also see:

Continental's TSA Airport Security is decidedly Un-CLEAR