Some meetings are essential to driving a company’s business growth, and must be conducted in person, face-to-face, while others can be effectively—and preferably—conducted using collaborative technologies. Reducing the number of unnecessary business trips increases productivity, reduces employee burnout, promotes talent retention, and frees up travel dollars for increased investment in the kinds of trips that grow a company’s business.

Companies can and should smartly manage virtual meetings to ensure travelers make educated decisions about whether or not meetings can be effectively conducted without physical presence. Say, for example, an employee is set on traveling to a satellite office to conduct an internal meeting—in person. A company can ask the right questions to help the employee determine if there is a real need to travel.

If the answer is “no,” the company must make it easier for the employee to conduct their business through one of the many virtual collaboration tools available. Employers who provide their employees with these types of collaboration strategies and programs stand to gain, not only in cost savings, but also productivity and improvements in employee satisfaction and work-life balance.

Earlier this year, BCD Travel and Advito joined forces with technology company Cisco to create a new practice area in corporate travel that previously didn’t exist: Total Collaboration Management.

“A comprehensive global collaboration program includes both actual travel and a robust array of technologies promoting effective communication without physical presence. It includes instant messaging, chat rooms, audio conferencing, video conferencing, online, mobile, telepresence and more,” said April Bridgeman, senior vice president of global corporate travel management company, BCD Travel, and managing director of BCD Travel’s consulting group Advito. “However, most companies aren’t investing in or managing collaboration in a cohesive way. We already help companies manage their travel investments and others help them manage their virtual collaboration investments.”

Employees traveling to meet other employees from their own company offer a particularly good opportunity for companies to reduce or redeploy travel spend. Companies like Advito can analyze travel data to measure the amount of non-essential travel that’s taking place to determine what opportunities exist for replacing frequent trip routes with accessible virtual technology at the locations people are traveling most often. Based on that analysis, the Total Collaboration Management offering brings together the client’s IT, facilities and travel departments to discuss how and when communication technology can make travel unnecessary.

“We review the analyses and provide locations where virtual collaboration assets need to be in order to reduce travel demand. We discuss how well employees understand the options and how to book them, current system utilization, cultural and practical barriers to increasing video use. And we talk about how to make it easy for employees to book and use virtual collaboration technology in place of travel, “Bridgeman said.

“Digitalization requires these relationships to come together,” said Sam Chon, business development manager for Cisco Systems. “As those relationships develop, the way companies approach travel will change dramatically.” For his part, Chon said that a partnership with a global travel management company seemed a natural next step in meeting the market need for Cisco’s collaborative technologies. “We are well aware that there will always be a need for travel,” Chon said. “However, for cases where travel is not essential, Cisco sees an opportunity to significantly drive business outcomes by working with BCD Travel and Advito to develop a strategic approach to collaboration.”

In cases where travel remains essential, companies like BCD will continue to arrange travel for their clients as usual. Each company must determine the right mix of physical travel and virtual collaboration technologies based on its underlying business goals and corporate culture to make it easier for travelers to stay. BCD and Cisco are betting that companies will turn to their knowledge, tools and support to determine what that best mix is.

This post was created by SkiftX in collaboration with our partner, BCD Travel and its consulting unit, Advito. Earlier this year, BCD Travel and Advito joined forces with telecommunications giant Cisco to create a new practice area in corporate travel that previously didn’t exist: Total Collaboration Management. To learn more about Total Collaboration Management, visit Advito.com.