Feds issue guidelines to stay away from Vegas and Orlando for meetings

I am sure the voters in Nevada and Florida will be very interested to know that the federal government is telling agencies to avoid booking meetings there. There are a lot of people in the hospitality industries whose jobs are at risk or already gone. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Tamara Audi:

... employees at some big agencies, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are being encouraged to host meetings in more buttoned-down places such as St. Louis, Milwaukee or Denver.

When a conference planner for MGM Mirage's New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas tried to book a conference with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, she received a polite refusal.

The Department of Justice "decided conference[s] are not to be held in cities that are vacation destinations/spa/resort/gambling," according to a May email from an FBI employee obtained by the U.S. Travel Association and viewed by The Wall Street Journal. "Las Vegas and Orland[o] are the first 2 on the chopping block."

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said, "We do have guidance that says avoid locations and accommodations that give the appearance of being lavish or are resort destinations."

Travel industry lobbyists say government policies have essentially resulted in a blacklist of banned destinations that is punishing travel-dependent states, such as Nevada and Florida. Those destinations, which have tens of thousands of hotel rooms and millions of square feet of conference space, often offer the best deals on meetings and conferences, say officials from the U.S. Travel Association.

Following the embarrassment of video-taped scenes of federal bureaucrats boogying at the ultra-luxurious Arizona Biltmore Hotel to ‘relieve stress", it is understandable that agencies want to avoid the "appearance" of doing what they are doing: wasting taxpayer money on useless junkets.

We don't know when this guidance was supplied to federal agencies, but a sneaking suspicion is that it was after the Arizona Biltmore tape aired, and some genius in the White House reacted, not realizing that Harry Reid is up for re-election next year. Amateur hour stuff, it seems to me.

Of course, there are some wonderful luxury hotels in many American cities. I am a big fan of the older luxury hotels: the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee has terrific restaurants and spacious elegant rooms in the old building. The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver is another landmark classic, and St. Louis boasts the Chase-Park Plaza and a Ritz-Carlton, among other fine hostelries. It is quite feasible for the feds to have their luxury accommodations while they relieve stress and still pretend to be doing the people's business while they spend our money on useless junkets.

Here's a suggestion: just cancel all these useless meetings, and use teleconferencing instead. Relieve stress on your own damn dime.

Hat tip: Jeanette Colville.