Academic life involves a significant amount of necessary travel -- conferences, talks, NSF meetings, research collaborations. Requiring travel for a PC should be avoided, especially these days when any air travel is an unpleasant hassle, and electronic PC tools (like easychair) are becoming reasonably good. My other main objections:
- Travel wastes PC members' time. For people with families, the cost is particularly severe, as overnight travel specifically takes away from family time.
- PC travel costs. It either increases the cost of the conference, or PC members have to pay with their own grant money.
- Extra air travel is ostensibly bad for the environment. Be aware of your carbon footprint!
- It leads to better decisions. This seems to be a matter of faith with some people, but I have seen no real evidence for it. In my experience, online discussions can be as good as face-to-face discussions. In both cases, there are various types of noise, and decisions will not be perfect, but hopefully nearly so.
- It saves time, by gathering people all in the same room to make decisions. Given the time required for actual travel, I doubt this is true. Even granting this, it isn't worth the loss in time flexibility. Getting on a plane means missing class, family dinners, etc.
- It leads to better feedback. I do not see how this can be possible. Electronic PC meetings allow recording of comments and discussions, which should make it easier to provide better feedback, in the form of appropriate cuts and pastes, in the reviews to the authors.
- It provides an opportunity for colleagues to get together. This I can't deny. Face-to-face PC meetings are usually more fun and informative than electronic ones. Does that really make up for the time/cost/annoyance of travel?