Airfares are up…customer satisfaction is down. Yet nearly 500 million people boarded one of the 10 major U.S. carriers for flights within the United States in 1999. Unfortunately, many of those air travelers are finding that "flying the friendly skies" isn't so friendly – it's frustrating. According to a recently unveiled Airline Quality Rating Survey (AQR) for 2000, airline service and quality are going down and business travel may be in a period of decline due to inflated business fares, cancelled flights, lost baggage, incidents of air rage and overall dissatisfaction with service. One of the most interesting findings? The month of July is one of the three worst months for mishandling baggage. Is it any wonder people are forsaking the airlines and considering other options, such as conferencing services? Today, conferencing services are helping businesses find alternative solutions to avoiding airline dilemmas through conference calls via the phone or Internet, including streaming, which combines video and audio streaming so you can access your meeting or seminar any time, anywhere. A recent annual survey by Yesawich, Pepperdine and Brown and Yankelovich Partners Inc., reported that 40% of business travelers found air travel to be stressful, a hassle and depriving them of a good night's sleep.

Why is everyone tossing and turning? The frustrations lie not just in the thought of missing work at the office and family activities at home, but the very process of traveling by air. According to an April report on 20/20, the number of flight delays last summer reached record-high levels. Most airports knew there would be delays, even before you arrived at the airport, because of flight take-off times being overscheduled.

Think checking statistics through the Department of Transportation will help you when determining which airline has the best on-time records? Think again. According to the report, airlines are often credited with an on-time departure as long as they have you in the plane and pushed away from the gate. How many stories have you heard of people sitting on the runway for hours, missing several connections due to this overscheduling? One frustrated pilot in Minnesota even ordered pizzas for everyone aboard his flight as they waited for hours on the runway!

Incidents such as these may become more frequent, whether we like it or not. According to the AQR survey, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)/Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that air travel passenger volume will continue to expand, with only limited airport capacity expansion being available until 2006 or 2007. Congestion is expected to get worse before it gets better.

About 44% of the participants in the Yesawich, Pepperdine and Brown and Yankelovich Partners survey said they would drop out of today's airline scene with its full flights and risk of delays if they could find some other way to get their jobs done. Of those polled, 70% said they expected new technology, such as videoconferencing, to reduce the need for business travel.

If They Only Knew...
Who wants the hassle of sitting on a runway, with the stress compounding as you realize you're going to miss or walk in late to a business meeting AGAIN due to flight delays? Avoiding the stress of business travel can be easy if you incorporate some simple business applications through conferencing services. Whether it's dialing into a conference call from your office or participating in employee training from the comforts of your home, conferencing services can provide a variety of convenient, easy and less-expensive solutions for many of your meeting needs.

Did you really need to fly some of your employees into headquarters for two weeks? At least one week could be dedicated to conducting employee training through Conference Webcast. The trainees can even type in their questions or replay a broadcast at a later date for reference. Through Conference Webcast, you can also view CyberSeminars, product launches, or even communicate with your top executives through the newest advances in video and audio streaming. Anyone with an Internet-connected computer, Web browser and media player can view a Conference Webcast.

If seeing the CEO isn't a priority, Net Conferencing is an effortless solution that will bring people together from multiple, far-flung locations in a virtual environment to collaborate, disseminate information and make decisions. Participants need an Internet-connected computer and separate phone line to attend. Not only can you share information via PowerPoint presentations, but you can also conduct polls, take advantage of question-and-answer capabilities and surf the Web with your audience.

How about the monthly meeting update? An audio conference call can conquer that task, and you don't even have to step away from your desk.

So, if air travel has got you down and you're fed up with airlines not adhering to their own schedules or ignoring your needs, try the variety of conferencing solutions available to you, and avoid being trapped on a plane this summer. Your pilot might not be as generous as the one in Minnesota!


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