News for the Hospitality Executive
D.C., October 3, 2011
– The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) today
letter to The Honorable Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management
Budget (OMB), regarding his memorandum on excessive conference spending
The September 21 memo titled, “Eliminating Excess Conference Spending and Promoting Efficiency in Government,” instructed all agencies and departments to conduct a thorough review of the policies associated with conference-related activities and expenses. These expenses must now be approved by a deputy secretary until appropriate controls are certified to be in place to prevent excessive spending. This creates a bottleneck in the approval process and inhibits employees from carrying out their normal job functions.
While applauding the government’s efforts to rein in waste and fraud, AH&LA believes that taking such a sweeping approach will not solve the inherent issue and may result in unintended consequences.
AH&LA stated in the letter that this policy change could have serious repercussions across the lodging and travel industries by discouraging legitimate business meetings and events. As such, the directive is counterproductive to both governmental effectiveness and the goal of reviving the American economy. AH&LA encourages OMB to target abusive spending such as the approximately $100 million in unauthorized travel upgrades by federal employees, instead of broadly discouraging meetings.
According to a study released by the Convention Industry Council, the U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, a $106 billion contribution to GDP, $263 billion in spending, $60 billion in labor revenue, $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. As such, any discouragement in face-to-face meetings would severely hurt not only the lodging industry, but the economy as a whole.
“The lodging industry sees firsthand the productivity that results from face-to-face interactions, as hotels host 85% of meetings,” said AH&LA President/CEO Joe McInerney. “Downgrading or delaying governmental conferences would be shortsighted and ultimately counterproductive. I welcome the chance to speak with Director Lew to discuss the important, positive impact meetings provide for our federal employees.”
The association is asking Director Lew to “control costs without placing the effectiveness of the government and thousands of American jobs in jeopardy.” To read the full letter, click here.
 The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy, the Convention Industry Council, Feb. 17, 2011.
Serving the hospitality industry for a century, AH&LA is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members
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