THE
Institute of Travel and Tourism has come under renewed fire for the cost of its
events at its annual general meeting which had to be postponed because so few
members turned up. Only 20 members attended the AGM – 10 short of the number
required by the ITT to sign off the year’s accounts. Nationally, the ITT has
more than 1,000 members.

Chief
executive Steven Freudmann put a brave face on the poor turnout, claiming it
was a sign the ITT had come through its financial difficulties and members were
happy. He now plans to hold the AGM again at the ITT headquarters this
Wednesday.

“I’m
disappointed but I don’t think it’s a major issue,” he said. “It’s a message
members are generally satisfied with the direction we are travelling in,” he
said, referring to last year’s packed AGM at the height of its financial
troubles.

Despite
the lack of numbers, Freudmann pressed ahead with a meeting and was critcised
for continuing to host events that were too pricey for many to attend. American
Express’ JP Morgan Chase corporate

service
centre travel consultant Christine Russell said: “I don’t like not being able
to go to things because I can’t afford it. It’s a pity there isn’t the money
around for sponsorship. I have been to 15 conferences but none in the last five
years because of the cost.”

Members
said low attendance at events was symptomatic of the high costs charged and
pointed out plans to attract younger members would also necessitate cheaper
events. Freudmann said the board had already started happy hour evenings on the
first Tuesday of each month in London at which drink prices were reduced and
entry was free. Further cheaper events, such as lunches instead of dinners, are
also under consideration.

He
admitted there were standards for venues that he was “not prepared to go under”
and added that, historically, the ITT had lost “bucketfuls of money”, while
recent functions have made a profit.