Corporate Travel, Perks, and “Excess”

If you’re anything like me, you find the recent rumblings about executive bonuses, Gulfstream jets, and lavish corporate retreats quite unsettling. In fact, I sometimes find myself getting worked into a “torches and pitchforks” proletariat lather. But then I start to think…

While I can’t really comment upon executive bonuses, I would like to opine about corporate travel, and some of the corporate perks we’re so resentful of.

Companies have begun to restrict the travel of their executives and are curtailing corporate training, seminars, and expos (read: Trade Shows) that might be perceived as excessive or indulgent. As such, the travel and tourism industry’s woes have been doubled in the already recessionary business environment.

What is wrong with ensuring a face-to-face meeting with an important client – even if it will entail a significant investment? Or viewing a trade show exhibit display prior to purchasing a product costing hundreds of thousands? What is wrong with investing in the expertise of your workforce by sending valued employees to seminars, symposiums, or corporate training, even if it’s 1,000 miles away? While most of these employees long ago lost their zeal for traveling on business, their trips cost significant corporate dollars. Those costs are paid to hard working individuals in the tourism and travel industry – everyday these people vye for opportunities to make those trips as comfortable and productive as possible for their customers. The interdependence of trade shows, travel, and tourism industries is great. There are a myriad of talents required for a single custom exhibition booth -from it’s design, to its construction, to its installation on the convention hall floor (and all of the tasks in-between). This represents an underrecognized, and underappreciated engine of employment.

Is there anything wrong with that? Are the torches and pitchforks really needed? Unless we wish to chastize the hard working service providers in these industries, we ought to support corporate travel, perks, and even a healthy dose of “excess!”