Eyenetwork ( ), a provider of videoconferencing services, is reporting a significant shift towards videoconferences by companies that used to rely on face-to-face meetings. A massive upsurge in client enquiries was predictably triggered by the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland, which grounded international flights. However, now that the ash is settled and planes are flying as normal, a higher than usual level of client interest in videoconferencing has been sustained.

Eyenetwork received a 300% boost in videoconferencing enquiries as soon as the volcano kyboshed flights. Now that there’s no disruption to air travel, bookings remain 30% higher and companies who could resume face-to-face meetings are sticking with the videoconferencing option, which is considerably cheaper than world-wide air travel and reduces carbon footprints. As many companies are realising, video conferencing works for everything from job interviews to court cases, product development meetings, brainstorming sessions and AGMs, and employees don’t need to waste time in transit that could be used for productive work.

When the volcanic eruption occurred, for the first time in history, people became aware that video conferencing was a 100% valid alternative to flying. On April 18, 2010, EU transport ministers suggested the use of video conferencing services and several aviation industry organisations booked Eyenetwork’s facilities. Companies in New York, London, Moscow and Paris accounted for the lion’s share of the ‘volcanic panic’ enquiries, with others coming from places as far apart as New Zealand and Brazil. Of the volcano-related enquiries, 62% were from those who were using video conferencing for the first time, 16% came from those who had tried it years ago but had forgotten about it or stopped using their own equipment and the remainder were from clients who use video conferencing frequently but not for all meetings. 65% of those who tried it for the first time said they were now considering using videoconferencing again.

Eyenetwork’s network of video conferencing facilities can be hired on-demand and by the hour. The company can facilitate video meetings in 125 countries and within any one of its 3,500 certified locations. From Kabul to Kalamzoo, Zaire to Zimbabwe, Eyenetwork has more than 14 years of experience in making meetings possible without flying.

Lisa Honan, managing director of Eyenetwork, comments: “It’s a shame that flights had to be removed for companies to realise the value of video conferencing but we’re not complaining! Thousands of business meetings were cancelled because of the volcano and many companies switched to our video conferencing facilities for the first time.

“Reports suggest that the grounding of flights saved an estimated 2.8 million tonnes of CO2. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), business travel accounts for about 20% of global air travel emissions. If business travel could be reduced by a third, we’d see a resulting reduction in CO2 emission of approximately 120 million tonnes – roughly equal to the national emissions of France, Greece and Denmark combined. And that would make a huge contribution towards ‘saving the planet’, we think.”

Honan, whose company is founded on green ethics, believes that the environmental reasons for video conferencing will remain more compelling to businesses in the wake of the volcano. As well as reducing air travel, video conferencing lowers ground environmental impact by cutting business usage of taxis and cars. A taxi from central London to Heathrow airport, for example, emits about seven kilograms of carbon dioxide alone.

Honan says: “The financial cost of business travel is massive – it is the third-biggest budget item for many companies. As well as cutting travel costs, companies can avoid expensive hotel bills and employee expense claims by switching away from face-to-face meetings. Videoconferencing offers quality and reliability which is invaluable at CEO level where a company can’t afford to miss an important meeting because of a delayed or cancelled flight.”

Eyenetwork, based in Brighton, UK, was established in 1996, has run over 43,000 video conferences and has grown to employ more than 14 people. Today, the company has more than 3,500 world-wide video conference facilities in its network, covering 125 countries, and it can assist clients in eight different languages. All the video conferencing facilities are available for hire by the hour.

Source: Eyenetwork