A clever idea to deal with travel costs to an exotic retreat location

The organizers of Belgium-based InBev’s 2007 Legal Conference, the seven senior lawyers who manage the company’s 50-lawyer department, wanted to hold the conference in Argentina. As the general counsel of InBev, Sabine Chalmers, writes in Acc Docket, Vol. 25, Sept. 2007 at 16, “The only down side was that business class fares to such an exotic location had the potential of blowing the entire budget for the conference.”

Her legal leadership team came up with a clever idea: “Give attendees the option to travel to Buenos Aires in economy class or to boring old ‘head office’ in business class.” All the lawyers chose the cheap seats to Argentina!

When in-house counsel believe that funds for the $6,000 business-class seat just come from elsewhere, why should they conserve money and fly coach? But if there were some way for those lawyers to fly coach for $1,500 and get a cash rebate (yes, taxed) for, let’s say, half the difference (1/2 of $4,500), I am sure many would prefer the cash and save the law department huge amounts. Or, let the lawyer use a frequent flyer points, and get a cash rebate for half the difference.

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