Washington, DC - February 9, 2009 - Leaders from key organizations
representing the meetings, events and incentive travel industries united
to issue guidelines on acceptable business travel practices to companies
that have received emergency government lending. The guidelines,
built upon existing corporate best practices, are designed to ensure transparency
and accountability and protect the one million American jobs supported
by corporate meetings and events.
"The business practices of our customers impact the welfare of our industry,
our employee base and the economic health of the communities where we do
business," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
"Working collaboratively, associations representing the meetings, events
and incentive travel industries are addressing an urgent public need by
developing clear, prudent guidelines for companies that have received taxpayer
The standards support President Obama's recent call for the boards
of directors of companies that have received emergency government lending
to develop guidelines on conferences, events and employee recognition programs.
Highlights from the guidelines include:
Meetings and events are responsible for 15 percent of all travel-related
spending, create nearly $40 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state
and local level and generate more than one million jobs. Without
the jobs generated by meetings, events and incentive travel, the current
unemployment rate of 7.6 percent would rise to 8.2 percent and cost the
average American household an additional $136 in taxes annually.
Conferences or events with a cost exceeding $75,000 must be supported by
a written business case identifying a specific business purpose and positive
return on objective and investment metrics;
At least 90 percent of incentive program attendees shall be other than
senior executives (as defined by Treasury Department guidelines) from the
host organization; and
Total annual expenses for meetings, events and incentive/recognition travel
shall not exceed 15 percent of the company's total sales and marketing
Full List of Guidelines
This model policy is intended for adoption
by companies receiving
emergency lending from the federal government.
Model Board Policy for Approval of Meetings, Events and Incentive/Recognition
1. General policy statement: The CEO shall be responsible for implementing
adequate controls to assure that meetings, events and incentive/recognition
travel organized by the company serve legitimate business purposes and
are cost justified.
2. All proposed meetings, events and incentive/recognition travel organized
by the company must serve one or more specified legitimate business purposes
(see representative listing attached). Each proposed meeting, event or
incentive/recognition travel with a cost exceeding $75,000 must be supported
by a written business case identifying a specific business purpose.
3. Total annual expenses for meetings, events and incentive/recognition
travel shall not exceed 15 percent of the company’s total sales and marketing
4. The amount spent for an employee performance incentive/recognition
event shall not exceed two (2) percent of the total compensation of eligible
participants or 10 percent of total award earners’ compensation.
5. The process for approving meetings, events and incentive/recognition
travel, and the procedures for assuring adherence to this policy, will
be subject to independent audit to confirm policy adherence.
6. At least 90 percent of incentive program attendees shall be other
than senior executives (as defined by applicable Treasury Department guidelines)
from the host organization.
7. Performance incentives shall not promote excessive or unnecessary
risktaking or manipulation of financial results.
8. All internal meetings or events attended only by senior executives
(as defined by applicable Treasury Department guidelines) and/or board
members shall be devoted to specific business purposes, and participating
senior executives shall be responsible for any expenses incurred for non-business
9. The CEO of the company shall certify to the board at least annually
that the foregoing policies are being followed, and are sufficient to provide
reasonable assurance that the company’s expenditures for such purposes
are not excessive.
10. These policies shall be subject to modification only with board
Examples of Legitimate Business Purposes for Meetings, Events,
As with all business expenditures authorized in these challenging circumstances,
all proposed expenditures for meetings, events and incentive/recognition
travel should be made to strengthen the competitive position of the company
in the marketplace and position the company for the creation of long-term
value and growth. Below is a representative list of legitimate business
purposes for meetings, events and incentive/recognition travel.
Effective product launches to educate sales force, channel partners and
Sales conferences and employee meetings to align vision, strategy and tactics.
Training and staff development meetings – learning environments conducive
to adult learning and professional development, improving participants'
skills at their trade and/or their familiarity with the company's products
Employee recognition programs to motivate and reward employees for achievement
Professional conferences that provide networking, education and best practice
sharing across companies and industries.
Performance incentives with clear rule structures that are designed to
motivate and reward high performers for exceeding established goals that
generate incremental revenue growth for their respective organizations
and that are beyond the investment in the program.
User conferences for customers utilizing the company's products or services
to obtain feedback, build networks, provide product training and capture
ideas for enhancements to the company's product offerings.
Product development events designed to generate feedback for research and
Corporate-sponsored events that further charitable purposes.
Trade shows and similar events that bring prospective buyers and sellers
Strategic, business and financial planning and review meetings.
Employee meetings as a result of company mergers and/or acquisitions for
the purpose of alignment of products, brands and cultures.
"At a time when the Department of Labor reports a loss of nearly 200,000
travel related jobs in 2008 and U.S. Commerce Department data predicts
a loss of an additional 247,000 travel related jobs in 2009, it is critical
that every effort be made to protect beneficial meetings and events," said
Dow. "Our associations are hopeful that with stringent, transparent
standards in place, policymakers and the business community can embrace
meetings, events and incentive travel as responsible economic stimulants."
While the metrics outlined in the guidelines are intended for the recipients
of emergency government lending, the drafters understand that many other
organizations may consider the policy. In those cases, it should
be noted that the metrics may vary based on industry size, company size
and market sectors.
American Hotel and Lodging Association
Destination Marketing Association International
Meeting Professionals International
National Business Travel Association
Professional Convention Management Association
Society of Incentive Travel Executives (SITE)
U.S. Travel Association