Downturn hits U.S. corporate meetings
he storm buffeting the U.S. economy threatens to swamp the $175 billion corporate meetings industry as companies seek to cut back on expenditure by reducing the number of conferences they hold. By organizing fewer big meetings in distant cities, companies can save millions on airline seats, conference hall bookings, hotel rooms and a range of smaller items. But those savings -- while smart for the companies -- are provoking a crisis in the industry that provides the services. "I've been in this business 40 years and I've never seen anything like this before," said Kevin Maguire, president of the National Business Travel Association. "I call it the DDE for 'devastating domino effect'," said Maguire. It is having an impact from cab drivers and florists to restaurants and street vendors, he said.