Monday, November 17, 2008

Managing the "AIG Effect"

There's been lots of talk about the "AIG effect" at the 28th annual Florida Encounter, which brought together more than 80 meeting planners and 100 representatives from Florida hotels, resorts, and destinations at the Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa at Pontre Vedre. As planners and suppliers commiserated with one another over corporate meeting cancellations and postponements and slashed meeting budgets, one hotel sales exec declared that "flat is the new growth."

However, the fallout from the public reaction over AIG executives meeting at a posh California resort in October has a silver lining for some: being less glamorous is suddenly more alluring. Lu Sadler, northeast sales manager for the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club, says she is fielding calls from corporate planners who are drawn by the lack of ostentation - and the lack of the label "resort" - at the family-owned 1950s-era property she represents. The beachfront hotel has 34,000 square feet of meeting space, with a tennis center, spa and golf course, in an atmosphere Sadler describes as "comfortable," rather than luxurious. When corporate planners call, they emphasize that they want to steer clear of any perceptions of overindulgence, she said. "They specifically mention AIG." 

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