by By Lisa Grimaldi | May 01, 2009

The AIG effect and the economy are taking their toll not only on the firms that sponsor programs, but also on companies that arrange these trips.

In March, a spokesperson for Fenton, Mo.-based Maritz Inc. told M&C the firm "is cutting expenses 15 to 20 percent across the organization, including early retirement offered to 200 employees."

Noting that Maritz's largest clients are based in the automotive and financial services sectors, the spokesperson said, "Clearly, these are two industries that have been heavily impacted by the down economy, and we are adjusting our organization to align with those reduced needs."  

The other major player in the incentive industry, Minneapolis-based Carlson Marketing, had staff layoffs in late 2008. In addition:

* ITA Group, an incentive and event planning firm based in West Des Moines, Iowa, laid off 5 percent of its travel planning staff in January.

* Ambassadors Interna­tional, which operated an incentive firm, put all but one asset (Windstar Cruises) up for sale in February.

* LSO International, a destination management company with offices in France and Monaco (and which handles many programs for U.S. firms) announced in March that its four offices in France would close; at press time, the Monaco office remained open.