Tauranga Chamber of Commerce and Vodafone have joined forces to provide a free videoconferencing service for its members.
With strong export links in the area, the chamber and Vodafone saw a need to help businesses operate internationally and with multi-site locations around New Zealand.
"When Vodafone suggested the idea, we definitely saw a business use for it, with the cost of travel and more and more people working from different locations," acting chamber chief executive Anne Pankhurst said.
The video conferencing service was free to members when hiring the Vodafone Suite at the chamber offices on Chapel Street. The meeting room costs $175 for a half-day session, but access to the technology and bandwidth was free. Other venues cost up to $250 an hour for the videoconferencing facilities, Ms Pankhurst said. With two 50-inch screens suitable for professional video conferencing and presentations, the technology allowed for a five-way video conference and other parties could be dialled in on tablets, laptops, PCs or another video conferencing unit.
The suite could cater for up to 25 people and the camera view could take in the entire group or focus on individual speakers.
Ms Pankhurst said video conferencing no longer required people at the other end to sit in a similar video conferencing centre. "Now you can dial in off your phone, your desktop or your tablet," she said. Whereas Skype offered PC to PC access for a few people, the videoconferencing centre would allow a large number of people in multiple locations to interact using a range of technologies.
"The service will save us at least 10 hours of travel time this month," said Simon Oldham, general manager of Qjumpers, one of the first companies to use the service.
QJumpers is a Tauranga-based recruitment software and services company that services employers throughout New Zealand through its proprietary technology. Qjumpers' staff were frequently travelling around New Zealand to demonstrate its recruitment system to clients, train new clients and hold internal meetings.
"Our Auckland-based CEO travels to Tauranga one day a week," said Mr Oldham. "Now we can catch up via the Vodafone Suite, this will cut the number of trips in half, and it allows board members to patch in for various projects."
Mr Oldham said that with Qjumpers planning the launch of its recruitment software into international markets, the VDO conferencing technology would become even more important.
"We will have daily meetings with our web development partners, our in-house development team, project managers, designers and myself," he said.