Why is it that in the face of plummeting communication costs, and remarkable availability of new tools to make it easy, that business travel continues to grow?
On first glance, we should be travelling less, not more, but on further consideration, perhaps it is the richness of the face to face engagement and the potential to develop “social capital” with customers, geographically spread colleagues and suppliers that is keeping us on the planes, and the communication tools let us keep on top of the necessary crap in the office without having to be there.
Travel may be complementary to other communication costs, rather than the new tools being a substitute for travel as we all assumed to now.
The depth of personal, face to face communication cannot be substituted by the width possible with social tools, as looking someone physically in the eye involves having some “skin in the game”, putting yourself out there in a way not equalled by electronic means. The evolution of communities and the social capital that keeps them glued to gather, will see roles changing, but the physical handshake cannot be substituted by exchanged electrons.