American International Group Inc., the troubled insurer condemned last year for holding a $400,000 executive retreat after taking billions of dollars in government bailout money, is hosting a million-dollar conference at a luxury spa in Ojai this weekend.
This time, though, the majority of event costs won't be on the government's dime.
The New York company said it would spend $30,000 for airfare, hotel rooms, meals and ground transportation for 200 independent financial advisors at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. The rest of the bill, $1.27 million, will be picked up by sponsors, AIG spokesman Mark Herr said.
This event is geared toward creating business, the company said, as opposed to last year's debacle, when senior executives were wined and dined at the posh St. Regis resort in Dana Point.
"We're hosting this event ever mindful of the atmospherics of last year," Herr said. "We're trying to get back to conducting business to pay back the taxpayer."
In addition to the financial advisors, Herr said 30 sponsor partners who sell financial products and 20 AIG senior management members would attend. Spouses and additional guests have to pay their own way, he said. Golf outings, spa treatments and other recreational activities will be paid for by the attendees or by the sponsors, Herr said.
AIG expects the event to generate $400 million in new business.
Gonzalo Freixes, a professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management who specializes in business ethics, said the event was a customary marketing move and appeared to be a reasonable investment.
"It looks like they learned their lesson," Freixes said. "They're scaling back on their lavish tendencies and being more reasonable."