BE IN THE KNOW

June 10 2013

3 Things Meeting Professionals Should Know This Week

By David McMillin, Staff Writer



Looking to stay updated on what’s happening around the industry? Look no further. Here’s a look at three things every meeting professional should know from the past week.

1) Congress Scrutinizes Conference Spending (Again)

In case you haven’t heard, the Internal Revenue Service did more than collect your taxes in 2010. They also hosted a conference in Anaheim that has forced the meetings industry back into an unwelcome spotlight on Capitol Hill. Why are members of Congress upset? The conference expenses totaled more than $4 million, which included upgrades to suites, a lack of effort to negotiate government room rates and a video of IRS employees learning the Cupid Shuffle that has become a quick late-night comedy joke.

“The wasteful Anaheim conference is one example of a culture of excess that plagues the IRS and many federal agencies,” Representative Darrell Issa, R-Calif. and Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said. “Taxpayer money meant to pay for a core agency mission, the hiring of more enforcement personnel, was instead spent on a lavish party.”

While Issa and other lawmakers have voiced their frustration, the current leaders at the IRS have responded quickly to the report.

“While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have been incurred,” Danny Werfel, acting commissioner, Internal Revenue Service, testified. “Taxpayers should take comfort in knowing that these kinds of expenses are no longer permitted and such a conference would not take place today.”

SEE ALSO: PCMA Urges Caution in Response to IG Report

2) San Diego Averts Tourism Crisis

Tourism officials in San Diego breathed a big sigh of relief when Mayor Bob Filner backtracked from his initial refusal to provide funds to the San Diego Tourism and announced that the city would provide nearly $6 million to the SDTA. At the end of May, the SDTA had planned to suspend operations and layoff its employees due to a disagreement over a plan to help fund a centennial celebration in the city’s Balboa Park.

Thankfully, the crisis was averted, and the agency will continue to promote San Diego as a leisure and business destination.

3) United Sells Subscriptions for Fees and Leg Room

The airline industry is taking a cue from the publishing industry. Just as you can register for a full year subscription of your favorite magazine, United Airlines is experimenting with a new model that gives customers annual access to its Economy Plus seating and an option to pre-pay checked baggage fees.

If you’re a frequent flier, you may be able to make the price tag pay off. An individual Economy Plus subscription clocks in at $499, and a checked baggage subscription starts at $349.

SEE ALSO: 3 Unconventional Airport Additions

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