Magazine article ADWEEK

Still No Day at the Beach

Magazine article ADWEEK

Still No Day at the Beach

Article excerpt

APOP quiz: Can you guess the three letters that have struck terror into the souls of travel-industry brands everywhere? Answer: AIG. Late last year, on the heels of an $85 billion, taxpayer-funded bailout, American Insurance Group brass decided to take a $440,000 corporate retreat at the St. Regis Resort in Monarchs Beach, Calif. The junket (complete with pedicures) made for punchy news copy, but it was airlines, hotels and rental-car companies that got the black eye, with business still down dramatically for all. "That AIG fiasco made it a crime to have a meeting in a five-star hotel," says John Wallis, svp of product and brand development for Global Hyatt. "The slowdown is resulting from discretionary travel at the business level," confirms Becky Alseth, svp marketing at Avis, which does most of its bookings with execs on the road. As 2009 unfolds, the pain is likely to continue for all segments of travel that cater to the tasseled-loafer crowd, from upscale resorts to first-class airline bookings. An October 2008 survey by the Business Travel Coalition showed that 26 percent of companies had implemented "emergency cutbacks" in executive travel.

Nobody needed this news, coming as it did atop the recession--which was already taking its toll on the other side of the travel biz: the vacationing consumer. Here, however, the picture is more nuanced. As Alseth puts it, if business travelers "aren't going, well, they're not going." But when it comes to getaway trips, everyday Americans are still going--they're just staying closer to home and spending less. …

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