Last week, the Treasury Department announced new regulations for financial services companies receiving U.S. government bailout money, barring “excessive or luxury items” at corporate conferences and events. And members of Congress are proposing legislation along the same lines.
Even companies not receiving U.S. government money are trimming back. The North Face, the outdoor apparel and equipment company, hosted dealers and business partners at a Squaw Valley resort near Lake Tahoe in California late last year.
But to save the cost of 400 hotel rooms for the first night, North Face created a base camp where the group slept outdoors in North Face clothes and sleeping bags. Groups gave presentations around a camp fire. “The night was freezing cold,” said Katja Asaro, managing director at Henry V Events, the Portland company that had planned it. “But people really got into it.”
No company, after all, wants to receive the same kind of press that the American International Group did last October. Less than a week after the U.S. government provided $85 billion in bailout funds to the insurance giant, AIG held a weeklong retreat at the luxurious St. Regis resort in Monarch Beach, California.
In short order, AIG executives were hauled before Congress and pilloried for providing manicures, pedicures, massages and facials to executives and running up a $440,000 tab on rooms, meals and spa treatments.
In a survey released last week, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said 71 percent of its members planned to spend less on travel this year and would use teleconferences more to replace meetings.
Wells Fargo, which received $25 billion in U.S. government bailout money, has canceled all its “recognition events” this year, including plans to fly dozens of its top mortgage officers to Las Vegas for a junket at the Wynn Las Vegas and the Encore Las Vegas.
That’s less emissions impacting planet earth. Ladies & gentlemen, please allow yourself to step forward and smell the prairies;