With the economy in a relative crawl compared with last year's supercharged boom, you would think companies would be scaling back on luxurious incentive trips and events. And that's just what some — but not all — companies are doing.
Last year, CMI reported on four companies whose lavish events caught our eye. Here's an update on them:
Pepsico — Maybe the blazing hot summer helped to boost sales, but the soft-drink giant's midyear operating profit is up 21 percent over last year's. So the Purchase, N.Y.-based company continues to host top-flight events, such as inviting more than 100 executives to participate in the Pepsi Customer Appreciation Invitational at Pinehurst Country Club, site of the U.S. Open. “It's only one of many events we hold for our customers,” says Pepsico spokesman Larry Jabbonsky. “Categorically, there are and will be no changes.”
Razorfish — This New York City-based digital solutions provider has seen the boom go bust — and with it, the company's Catapult program, a weeklong Outward Bound-like experience in Costa Rica that teaches leadership and teamwork. “We're not getting the business we were,” says a company spokesman, “so we're looking to do things that are more cost-effective.” Example: Catapulters now take part in “Steel Table” seminars that address business and management issues.
MicroStrategy Inc. — Strapped by stock prices that plunged 90 percent and the SEC's $11 million in fines and penalties for alleged bookkeeping irregularities, the Virginia-based software and Internet company no longer sends its 2,000 employees on a weeklong winter Caribbean cruise. “We need to be cost-conscious,” says public relations director Marc Brailov. “We continue to offer stock options and so forth. Last year we could afford the Caribbean cruise; now we can't.”
J.G. Wentworth — The New Jersey-based specialty finance company continues to send a number of employees to well-known marathons — it's just not sending as many as far. Wentworth sent 29 employees to the Los Angeles Marathon in 1999 and 20 to the London Marathon last year. “This year we'll be sending fewer employees, and we'll be sending them to the Chicago Marathon,” says Wentworth spokesman Mike Goodman.