In Defense of the Off-Site Business Meeting

March 22, 2009

If there has been an unintended victim in the controversy surrounding the objectionable behavior by companies that accept TARP funds from the federal government, it might be the resort and travel industry.

One travel industry official told a colleague of ours, Golf Digest travel editor Matt Ginella, that more than $1 billion worth of business connected with corporate travel and hospitality has been canceled since the collapse of AIG, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers last September triggered our current economic morass. Why? Because in the wake of those financial catastrophes, it has somehow become a "federal crime" -- I'm being facetious, but only just a bit -- for companies to host an off-site business meeting, or entertain clients, or do just about any sort of corporate entertaining away from the home office.

This is silly -- and also becoming a serious problem for all the hotel owners, meeting planners, hotel maids and everyone else in this country who has a job in the resort and travel industry. And in Sunday's New York Times, Ben Stein authors a really good piece that explains why.

-- G.R.