Video conference services benefit volcanic ash disruption

Demand for video conferencing services suddenly surged following the travel restrictions of caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland last week, say industry suppliers.

Eyenetwork has announced that it received a 300% boost in enquiries regarding videoconferencing services almost immediately after flights were grounded. This interest appears to have been sustained as minor disruptions continue and people look to avoid a repeat of the tribulations of the last few weeks.

“Now that there’s no disruption to air travel, bookings remained 30% higher and companies who could resume face to face meetings are sticking with the videoconferencing option,” said an Eyenetwork spokesman.

Other video conferencing and telepresence companies also saw an increase due to the volcanic eruption.

The New York Times reports that BT saw a 35% increase in the demand for business video conferencing services over the six days of complete flight restrictions across the bulk of Europe. Competitors Skype and Deutsche Telekom also reportedly saw an increase in the demand for video conferencing though could not release specific figures.

Skype spokeswoman Kim Milosevich instead offered the anecdotal account of a couple stranded in Dubai, who televised their wedding vows to guests gathered at a ceremony in England on the Saturday immediately following the flight restrictions.

Andrew Davis of Wainhouse Research, which tracks the video conference and telepresence industry, has predicted that the flight disruption will increase the forecast for industry sales this year from 10% to 15%. He said: “We have seen from every major disruption like this an increase in the use of video conferencing. I am 99% sure that we will see another increase this time also.”

Figures from Eyenetwork indicate that sustained demand is likely, as the bulk of enquiries (62%) came from companies who had never used video conferencing facilities before. 65% of all those who used video conferencing for the first time last month said that they would consider using it again in the future.

“It’s a shame that flights had to be removed for companies to realise the value of video conferencing but we’re not complaining!” said Lisa Honan, managing director of Eyenetwork, adding that business travel accounts for 20% of all global air travel emissions and that reducing it by a third would create a “resulting reduction in CO2 emissions of France, Greece and Denmark combined.”