Tandberg has launched a free video conferencing programme called ‘Fly-Free’.

It designed to give companies an opportunity to test high-definition video conferencing with business colleagues in South Africa and overseas.
Bryan Thompson, Tandberg area manager: sub-Sahara South Africa, says: “It is not uncommon for business people to travel from Johannesburg to Cape Town for a meeting, or travel overseas for a single meeting lasting an hour or two and then catch the next plane back.
“Video conferencing can save thousands of rands, on travel costs and time. But some companies have been put off in the past by videoconferencing technology.”
By logging onto the programme’s website, prospective travellers can book their session in much the same way they would book an international flight, simply selecting their ‘departure’ and ‘destination’ cities from a list of 35 possible locations.  A Tandberg ‘travel agent’ will reply with confirmation in the form of a ‘boarding pass’ for all parties involved and the ‘trip’ is booked.
“This free limited invitation offers companies a means to not only to reduce business travel, accommodation costs and carbon footprint, but to reduce staff downtime,” says Thompson.
“Importantly, Tandberg video systems have the ability to share multimedia source materials such as video clips, websites, spreadsheets and other presentations – ultimately making video meetings more engaging and effective.”
The package includes a ROI calculator to estimate the potential cost reduction and payback period and a travel reduction programme that provides checklists and templates to help companies roll out a travel reduction programme internally.
Visual communications is paying off for Tandberg where, in the last year ,its global employees made on average 75 000 video calls each month. Replacing unnecessary business travel with ‘in-person’ video calls has effectively saved the telepresence and video conferencing company over 21 000 metric tons of carbon emissions, over $45-million and about 38 250 productivity hours in the last year.
This comes in the wake of a report from the European Commission that cites videoconferencing as a way to cut carbon emissions. The organisation claims that Europe could save more than 22-million tons of carbon dioxide a year if it replaced 20% of business trips with this technology.
Thompson says: “Being a telepresence and video conferencing company means that we need to walk the talk. At Tandberg, every employee has a video conferencing system on their desk and access to video-enabled meeting rooms, which means they can visually interact with their colleagues in every corner of the world at anytime.
“For the company, this translates to huge savings in travel costs and productivity hours. Needless to say, less travel means a better work-life balance and the added satisfaction that you’re helping the environment.
“On average, a regional in-person meeting involving 50 participants across 10 countries may cost as much as R350 000 in travel cost and over 1 000 hours of lost productivity.  The cost incurred from just a couple of such meetings is sufficient to pay for the deployment of the best-in-class high-definition video conferencing systems across 10 sites.  On average, Tandberg's customers save over 30% in travel cost within the first year and see a payback within six months,” he says.