Get ready for some teambuilding and brainstorming—corporate group travel is heating up again as companies (long skittish about the stigma known as the “AIG effect”) are slowly resuming retreats and conventions in luxury resort locations.
The market for upscale working retreats had been essentially frozen for years, following public outcry about AIG’s half-million dollar retreat in 2008—taken just days after the insurance giant accepted $85 billion in federal bailouts.
ARIA Resort & Casino’s meetings wing. Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International.
Group business travel fell off dramatically during the recession and has been slower to rebound than individual business travel, according to Joseph Bates, senior director of research at the Global Business Travel Association. But that’s changing, he says.
Group travel spending went up nearly 8 percent in 2011 and is expected to continue to rise in 2012. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s back to the status quo—retreat trips are coming back smaller, shorter and with much fuller agendas than before, Bates says. “No one is really looking at resuming pre-recession extravagance,” he says. “There’s a balance.”