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Economy, Excesses Slam an Industry


Executive jobs often require extensive business travel - sometimes all over the world - for meetings, sales presentations, inspections of company facilities, trade shows and conventions.

This can be grueling, but there are some nice rewards, including stays in fine hotels, great meals and the chance to explore interesting and exciting places. Not only do private employers pay for all this, but their traveling executives also often earn points that they can use for personal and family trips.

Such travel supports an entire industry. It accounts for 80 percent of the Marriott hotel chain's revenues, for instance. Or it did until the current economic slump, in which companies are drastically cutting back on executive travel.

To make things worse, Washington lawmakers and the American public are outraged about recent abuses involving the over-use of corporate jets, meetings at fancy resorts and exotic locales where not much real business is conducted, and outrageous pampering of executives and their families.

You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl [football game] on the taxpayer's dime, President Obama warned Wall Street executives recently.

These remarks infuriated the mayor of Las Vegas, where room and convention bookings and casino revenues are already down and unemployment has spiked to 9.1 percent - 1.5 points higher than the national average.

We've got to get away from the symbolism of corporate fat cats smoking a big cigar on a golf course, Marriott's chief financial officer told the Washington Post.

It would appear that this won't be easy while a perfect storm of economic belt-tightening and suspicion about corporate greed is swirling.

Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.


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