Re: It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage
Yes, but you're overlooking the fact that it's a matter of preference for many of us. Some people, such as yourself, enjoy traveling. And that's good. Me, I'd rather take a beating than spend a packet on cabs and tickets, not to mention the horror of TSA or whatever gestapo occupies the airports, not to mention the crowds, the l-o-n-g walks (or runs if you're trying to get to that connecting flight with moments to spare because your incoming flight was late), ludicrous prices of "we've got you" food and drinks, lost luggage, the rude wankers you have to deal with everywhere, and all the other "pleasures" of travel. Also, I get claustrophobic and really uncomfortable in large crowds, which I think telepresence would help alleviate.
There's also business reasons in favor of this technology. Think of the savings in travel costs for a business that's footing the bill for the travel/hotel/food.
I don't see events going out of style due to this. You'd still have to pay to attend the event, albeit via "robot," so the event organizers can still make a profit. It's also a business opportunity for those providing the robots. You won't get a packet of swag to take home, but that's the only real downside I see.
There will always be a lot of people who relish travel, and many others may feel that using telepresence is just too "creepy" or just not for them. But for those physically limited or who just really hate travel, something like this could be really wonderful. And the fees for "renting" a "robot" would probably be a lot cheaper than traveling, so telepresence could make it possible for more people to attend an event distant from their homes.