Posts Tagged ‘ Corporate ’

Virtual Travel Impact on Architecture and Contruction

Last week I talked about how the evolution of virtual travel would likely affect the travel industry.  But, it’s not just the travel industry that will need to learn and change.  So will the architecture and construction industry and a number of others.   The way commercial real estate and even residences are designed will need to be completely re-thought.  Take the special case of hotels and how they are presently designed.  There are many sleeping rooms, significant conference  space, restaurant capacity, catering capacity, etc.

In the future, if a much larger number of people travel virtually to meetings, fewer sleeping rooms and square feet of traditional conference space will be needed.  Ditto the number of meals in hotel restaurants or in event spaces by catering.  If more knowledge workers can use virtual travel technology to be completely effective without going into their employer’s locations, then those companies will require fewer “physical” offices, cubicles and traditional meeting rooms.  The lessee’s of these large commercial buildings will begin to see tenants reduce their demands for physical space with each renewal of their leases.  As new buildings are designed and developed, they will need to be smarter, smaller, and more flexible.  At some point the only buildings that will need to have the workers show up physically is for things like manufacturing, converting raw materials into finished materials, and the like.  But, the knowledge workers, i.e., the white-collar workers, will very rarely have to make a trip into an office.  This will not be the same thing as today’s attempts at telecommuting.

Although even with today’s basic technology, telecommuting is making an impact for some businesses bottom line, even though to date, there is no discernible reaction by the architecture and construction industry, aside from a smattering of telepresence studios in the most forward thinking corporations.  For the longer term as virtual reality technology matures, knowledge workers will be able to collaborate with as many of their colleagues, customers and suppliers as they wish by using the same technology will provide an “as if you were there” business travel experience without leaving your home town.  This will be a game-changer for a far broader and deeper set of industries and businesses than one might think.

Ask yourself the question, would you physically commute to work if you could work from a location within a short walk or even from home (eventually) and have a more productive, rewarding experience than if you physically traveled?  I know what my answer would be.

Advertisements

Be there. Without actually being there.

Virtual travel is actually having the experience of traveling to a destination (whether near or far) without physically traveling.  In other words, you would experience the destination as if you were there, but without being there.

At the outset, I ask: If you could have a travel experience and couldn’t distinguish whether you were physically there or not, would you insist on physically being there?

I believe that we will have such a choice to make in less than 10 years for business travel and somewhere between 20 and 30 years for a full-fledged leisure travel experience.

When I chat with people about this, they say, “Of course, I would still want to go.” When I ask why, they say, “Well, I want to really experience the place, the people, the sights, the sounds.” They say they really want to “be there.” They also say it wouldn’t be the same if they were not physically at the destination.

But if I persist, and repeat: What if you could really experience it, complete with sights, smells, touch, interaction with people and places? I don’t mean experience it like watching a movie or a television program.  I mean experience it as if you were really there—in the movie—where your five senses actually tell you that you are there?

Let’s just assume that such a realistic experience will be possible and affordable at some point.  Given that, I wonder about the potential impact this capability will have on how we all live and work.

This impact on the physical world, including businesses and individuals, are the primary focus of my book Virtual Travel: Embrace or Expire.  The physical world, both natural and as constructed and maintained by humans, will be fundamentally changed when people no longer have to physically travel to have a real travel experience, either to accomplish work or to “get away from it all” for leisure.

When this happens, I believe large chunks of today’s physical world and its products and services will be bypassed.  When they are, if the businesses that deliver these products and services do not adapt, they will wither and die.  At the same time, incredible opportunities await existing businesses, industries, and individuals that adapt and grow as these radical changes occur.

What do you think will happen?  I would love to hear from you!