The behavioural economics of business travel in the post-Zoom world.

Zoom conferencing articleIt’s Rory Sutherland’s belief that most business travel to meetings makes no logical sense. It’s expensive, stressful, environmentally challenging and takes up tons of time.

So now that we can’t do it, and we get used to video conferencing, will it stop long-term?

No. Because according to Rory, it’s not about the meeting, it’s about status. People subconsciously justify the importance of their job, and their status, by going to meetings. The higher the cost and hassle factor, the more important the job. Video conference (VC) technology has been around for ages, but its main failing has been that it’s too easy.

Yes, way too easy. Flying to Frankfurt at 5am for a breakfast meeting feels much more C-Suite.

So, can we change this practice in the ‘new normal’, when we can go about our business once again? Yes, but it means we will have to enhance the status of video conferencing. Here’s our thinking:

  • Negative air miles. You get points for how many miles you saved by using a video conference. These can be exchanged for Duty Free booze, Ray Bans, perfume and giant Toblerones.
  • VC pods. All senior management get to make their calls from a cool sci-fi pod.
  • Conference call holograms. This is Star Wars tech that the Emperor invented.
  • Premium conference call apps. Expensive, exclusive, and really hard to use.
  • Conference calls on the move. Really important people are too busy to sit down to do a call.
  • Multi-conference-tasking. Now, you can be in two or more places at one time. So why not be in several meetings.
  • Finally, if you still miss getting up at 5am, just arrange a few calls with Australia.

So, plenty of ways to solve it. But do we want to? Not really. We’ll be desperate to get out and see people!