Corporate Travel

Jennifer CaplanNovember 1, 2001

Like many executives, James McDevitt is reevaluating his company’s travel policy in light of the events of September 11. “The fewer employees we have traveling, the safer everyone will be,” says McDevitt, CFO of software maker Clarus Corp. At sneaker and sporting-apparel company Saucony, CFO Michael Umana is looking at “creative options” for air travel, which the Peabody, Mass.-based company suspended immediately following the attacks.

Corporate executives around the country are exploring a range of commercial travel alternatives, from using corporate jets to spending more time on phone sales to videoconferencing and Webcasting–the transmission of audio and video to personal computers via the Internet (see “Fear of Flying,” article=5145). The latter is an important technology at Suwanee, Ga.-based Clarus, which has been using it as a cost-effective sales and marketing tool for some time, says McDevitt.

The hospitality industry is also paying more attention to Webcasting. “Since September 11, we’ve seen several hotels hard-wire their properties and recast conference services departments as local Webcasting business centers in an effort to compensate for lost meeting revenue,” says John Onorato, CEO of Red Bank, N.J.- based Desktop Live Inc., a Webcasting service provider. In turn, Webcasting vendors are rushing to introduce new applications to meet the armchair salesperson’s needs, such as streaming video, slide presentations, spreadsheets, and Q&A sessions.

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Hoover’s Inc. CFO Lynn Atchison acknowledges that managers may now be more inclined to experiment with technology, but she’s confident that sales executives will continue to meet with clients face-to-face to sell big- ticket products and services. “Maybe now you do a better job making sure that a lead is good before jumping on a plane,” concludes Atchison. — Jennifer Caplan