A hard-times policy for hardest of times

January 06, 1992|By Tom Belden | Tom Belden,Knight-Ridder NewspapersBusiness travel

1991 was a grim year for business travel. First the Persian Gulf War and then the recession caused companies everywhere to cut back on travel. Travel managers, corporate travel agencies and business travelers all have been asked to wrack their brains in search of ways to lower costs.

It was, no doubt, this fevered atmosphere of expense-account slashing that led an anonymous individual or group to draft a memo this fall, listing some of the most draconian ideas imaginable for saving money.

Here are some excerpts from the tongue-in-cheek travel policy, which circulated among numerous Fortune 500 companies and big travel agencies and recently was printed in Travel Weekly, a trade magazine.

"Due to budget constraints, the following corporate policies are announced regarding employees traveling on official business.

"Transportation:

"Hitchhiking in lieu of commercial transport is strictly encouraged. Luminescent safety vests will be issued to all employees prior to their departure on company business trips. Airline tickets will be authorized for purchase only in extreme circumstances and the lowest fares will be used. If, for example, a meeting is scheduled in Seattle but a lower fare can be obtained by traveling to Detroit, then travel to Detroit will be substituted for travel to Seattle.

"Lodging:

"All employees are encouraged to stay with relatives or friends. If weather permits, public areas -- such as parks and parking lots -- should be used for temporary lodging sites. Bridges may provide shelter in periods of inclement weather.

"Meals:

hTC "Expenditures for meals will be limited to the absolute minimum. It should be noted that certain grocery chains often provide free samples of promotional items. Entire meals can often be obtained in this manner. Travelers should also become familiar with indigenous roots, berries and other protein sources available at their destination. If travelers must use a restaurant, they should seek establishments offering 'all-you-can-eat' salad bars. This will be especially cost-effective for employees traveling together, as a single plate can be used to feed an entire group.

"Entertainment:

"Entertainment while on travel is strictly discouraged. If such extravagances are requested on customer contacts, the customer should be encouraged to pick up the tab. The hospitality provided to our customers who visit our facility should be tasteful, yet cost-effective. In lieu of extravagant dinners, a picnic bench will be placed in the parking lot near the Dumpster. A garden hose will be made available so that liquid refreshment can be provided for guests.

"Miscellaneous:

"All employees are encouraged to employ innovative techniques our team effort to save corporate travel dollars. One enterprising individual has already suggested that money could

be raised during airport layovers. Proceeds could be used to defray travel costs. In support of this idea, red caps will be issued to all employees prior to departure so that they may earn tips for helping other travelers with their luggage. Small plastic roses also will be made available to employees to sell as time permits."

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