During the last few days, when business people have been forced to curtail their international travel plans, technologies like videoconferencing and telepresence have enjoyed a new rush of interest from the market.

Telepresence is a relateively new technology that creates the perception that the different parties are sitting in the same room, having a face-to-face meeting, without having to travel to the meeting.
 Neotel is the first company in Africa to offer a telepresence public facility room, in partnership with TATA Communications.
Neotel has access to Tata Communications telepresence public rooms in the Chicago, Sydney, England, Philippines, and Boston. In the near future more public rooms will be available in Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur,  New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington DC – and Neotel customers will have access to all these rooms.
Wandile Zote, executive head of communication at Neotel, says telepresence is one of the best solutions for companies to effectively conduct their imperative business activities such as meeting while saving travel costs.
“These rooms provide a cost-effective and innovative way to conduct business by offering advanced audio, high-definition video interactive elements to deliver a virtual meeting experience that feels real,” he says.
Videoconferencing is also enjoying something of a renaissance, according to Polycom.
Polycom’s customer Regus, which operates the a global network of 2 500 publicly available video conferencing rooms and a growing list of immersive telepresence suites, has experienced a recent increase in usage of 108% in the UK and 18% across Europe.
Regus facilities in Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh as well as Gatwick and Heathrow received the highest demand as stranded travellers sought methods to maintain 'business as usual'.
“The truth is that too many organisations still lack the correct business continuity planning for times when communication becomes more challenging, meaning customers and overall competitiveness suffers,” says Mike Swade, vice-president: EMEA at Polycom. “The volcano and other recent incidents like H1N1 have been an eye opener to many organisations about the potential business impact that can be caused by external influences.”
Regus is expecting further high levels of enquiries for video communications as organisations strive to maintain international business communication during the on-going aviation crisis.
“Companies using visual communication are better prepared to deal with international crises like this and the ROI benefits are immediate. With no clear signs of when this will end, businesses need to look at alternative ways to communicate with staff, partners, suppliers and customers. Flying around the world for a meeting is no longer necessary or efficient,” says Swade.