While it would be hard to paint GM as a model of fiscal stability, it doesn’t mean the automaker should blow off a core business constituency. That’s why companies must not sacrifice important business meetings regardless of the prevailing political and economic climate. Even if the meeting is being held at a resort in Tucson, Arizona. Those who are quick to criticize large corporate meetings need to consider the following:
· In the case of GM, the top 500 fleet customers at their recent meeting account for 27.6% of the company’s total sales
· Large meetings are often booked well in advance and are very expensive to cancel
· The US Treasury has gone on record that it will not interfere with the day-to-day operations of companies receiving assistance
· Many outside functions at meetings such as golf outings at the GM meeting have become the financial responsibility of attendees in '09
· The meeting agendas have become far more business-focused - in the case of GM, they were "packed with informational sessions on GM’s 2010 product line”
· Resorts like the Wild Pass who host large meetings employ up to 1,500 people who are not CEOs. They are hard-working individuals, many of whom with families.
Finally, the meeting budgets represent a mini-fraction of what is spent on new product rollouts – especially GM’s development of the golf-cart-like Segway. It is far more difficult to imagine a Segway owner blissfully cruising down 5th Avenue with a cabbie tailgating close behind than it is any company forfeiting 27.6% of its business over fear of criticism.