How many hotel rooms can $114,000 buy?Even an inexpensive hotel room in Alberta could run around $114/night, so we would be looking at 1000 hotel-nights. In London, England during the 2012 Olympics, if you booked at the height of demand at $400/night, you'd be looking at around 285 hotel-nights.
That's 285 hotel-nights, booked when demand was highest, never used, and paid for by the Alberta Government.
The trip to London was supposed to be a diplomatic mission; bring awareness of Alberta, its culture, its economic promise, yada yada, to the rest of the world.
Instead, the trip showed to the rest of the world that we have so much money, we can blow it on empty hotel rooms. Or even worse, that we are exceptionally poor at fiscal management, so you should not invest in us.
Premier Alison Redford says that it's not her fault. When her predecessor, Ed Stelmach booked the trip, he booked it for too many people, and the London hotels couldn't resell them.
Steady Eddy must be very familiar with the underside of a bus by now.
So rather than bring the delegation back up to numbers that could use the hotel rooms, the decision was to keep the delegation smaller than originally planned by Eddy, thereby "saving" $123,000 instead, according to Tourism Minister Christine Cusanelli.
Fine. I'll go along with the savings of expenses and air travel. But I will not go along with wasted hotel space. The message that sends to Albertans is "your money is worthless", and to others around the world, it says "we don't need your money".
Instead, use the error to your advantage.
London, England has a homelessness issue. Albeit not a large one, but it is an issue for them nonetheless.
What kind of message would it have sent if Albertans took 285 people off the street for just one night each? What kind of message would it have sent if these 285 people had soft pillows, nights away from car horns or fog, a warm shower, and a continental breakfast for them in the morning?
I would suggest it would not say "we are fiscally incompetent" or "we don't need your money". I would suggest it would make a far more positive statement about Alberta and Albertans.
It would say we are world-class. And it would be right.