Polycom, Sabre Travel Network Partnering on Videoconferencing Reservation SystemBy Chris Talbot | Print
The Sabre Virtual Meeting reservation system, born of a partnership between Sabre Travel Network and Polycom, will allow business travelers to book telepresence rooms for meetings around the world.
For business travelers who need to find a telepresence room quickly, Polycom and Sabre Travel Network have partnered to create a solution that will create a global reservation system for reserving and using public and corporate-owned HD videoconferencing and telepresence rooms.
Through the Sabre Virtual Meeting reservation system, business travelers will be able to locate, reserve and connect hosted videoconferencing rooms. The system is also integrated into travel applications so the videoconferencing rooms can be booked alongside flights and hotels. The two companies expect the reservation system to increase the use of hosted videoconferencing rooms, including the ones Polycom is establishing at Regus locations.
"Advances in technology have changed the way we live our lives and run our businesses," said Greg Webb, president of Sabre Travel Network, in a statement. "Sabre Virtual Meetings will create a step change in the way corporate employees communicate and collaborate with each other and their customers. By making telepresence scheduling as simple as booking airline travel, Sabre and Polycom will help companies and employees form closer relationships with customers, enhance internal collaboration and increase productivity."
Customers can use the system to view conference room availability, review rates and features, and then book meetings across geographic regions. The system will be distributed to travel businesses and offer them flexibility in choosing how to schedule and reserve videoconferencing rooms.
Although potentially useful to business travelers who need to book videoconferencing rooms, the need for such a system is still unknown.
"It certainly will help drive this market, which is hosted telepresence. It’s kind of a 'nice to have, but is it needed?' I’m kind of on the fence about that, to tell you the truth," said Rich Costello, senior research analyst for unified communications and enterprise communications infrastructure at IDC.
The big question is whether there’s actually a big enough market for rentable telepresence rooms, Costello said. Some hotels and conference centers are providing rentable telepresence rooms, and there are hosting providers that also do so, particularly in European and Asian markets. However, the hype over rentable telepresence rooms has quieted down since they were first introduced a few years ago.
"When they first started rolling these out, there was a lot of hype around the capability to do this, and over the last year or so, it’s kind of died down," Costello said. "I haven’t heard a lot about it. It sounds like it hasn’t met the growth expectations that we heard about in the hype. It’s still kind of a nascent market, and there are some providers out there. I would see it overall as kind of a niche play."
Sabre and Polycom expect to launch Sabre Virtual Meeting in the first half 2012.