Friday, February 29, 2008

Water Saving Tip

As planners we often work in communities with water shortages or will be called on to do so. Here’s a tip to help:

When holding a sit down banquet, don’t prefill the water glasses. While waiting the glasses get sweaty, unappealing, and many times not consumed. Instead have the server pour fresh water for the guests who would like it. It is first class service for the guest and saves water for the local community.

We were able to show a savings of 520 gallons of drinking water for just one large conference!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Join Me by the Campfire

There are lots of great stories passed on by folks while sitting around a campfire reminiscing. As planners, we always like to share what went right, what went wrong, silly things that happen, and people we meet. I thought it might be fun to include posts from time to time telling campfire stories. So sit back and relax while I tell you about the time…

….we had ordered a conference breakfast that included yogurt for 300 guests. We asked for bulk service not individual plastic containers. The caterer was eager to comply and on the morning of the event, out came the yogurt in all its glory. Yes, sir, a huge vat of reddish-brown strawberry yogurt. No, not a vat, I would actually describe it more as a bath tub of the gooey stuff. Sitting there in the middle of the buffet table bigger than life itself. Few people were brave enough to take the plunge and scoop out a serving.

From that day forward when I ask for bulk yogurt, I make sure to ask for several serving dishes which can be kept cold and won’t intimidate my guests.

That’s my scary campfire story. Now we invite you to share yours!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Expertise and Passion Meet

When was the last time you left an industry meeting…

…feeling more energized than when you arrived?
…with a specific goal that will make a huge environmental and economic difference in your organization?
…with a “buddy” that will help you along the way to your goal?
…and with the knowledge that you are onto something big and there is an exciting time ahead?

As a planner for 30 years and a veteran of many meetings in our industry, this experience was new for me. Overwhelmingly, everyone I talked with said the same thing. The enthusiasm for the opportunities ahead to really make a difference was contagious. The sharing and support between participants was moving. We left ready to take on the world.

I invite you to talk with, any of the over 200 participants from 9 countries, who attended the Green Meeting Industry Council’s Conference about their incredible experience.

And then I invite you to join us next year to have this experience for yourself!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

CIC's Newest Member!

Here we are in beautiful Vancouver, BC for the Greening the Hospitality Industry Conference 2008 where an exciting announcement was just made…

…the Green Meeting Industry Council will become the newest member of the Convention Industry Council! The Executive Board of the CIC approved the membership and the full board will ratify the decision in April.

The Convention Industry Council's 31 member organizations (now 32) represent more than 103,500 individuals and over 17,300 firms and properties involved in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. This prestigious organization:

• administers the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) industry certification
• publishes The Convention Industry Council Manual and reference material
• spearheads the Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) initiative.

The Green Meeting Industry Council is thrilled and honored. GMIC is looking forward to starting work with other council members on accepted practices for green meetings and events.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Red light, yellow light, green light....GO!

Some good news has emerged for those seeking a universal standard for green meetings! The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) are looking to collaborate on the creation of a Green Meeting Standard.

On the heels of two planning meetings, industry stakeholders gathered in Vancouver, Canada at the Green Meeting Industry Council’s Greening the Hospitality Industry Conference to discuss the preliminary scope, content and process for moving forward with the standard. The standard would enable meeting professionals to ask the right questions, make environmentally and socially responsible decisions and measure the impact of these choices. The standard could also potentially identify minimum criteria for being called ‘green’ in our industry, a baseline for which is sorely lacking.

The working group has identified a need to create credible, consistent and recognizable standards within each area of meeting management: destinations, accommodations, venues, food & beverage, transportation, communications & marketing and exhibits.

Input and participation in planning for the standard is presently being sought from stakeholders within and outside of the industry. Committees are now being formed. If you are interested in joining this important process, please send an email to

Friday, February 15, 2008

Musings from MPI

MPI-Professional Education Conference in Houston was all about “Meeting Different”, including an ‘Unconference Alley’ where delegates could drop in and discuss issues that mattered to them without panelists and presenters, including a Green Café. Close to 200 planners stopped by the Café, dropping in to pose questions and share information in roundtable discussions about green issues that included:
APEX Green Meeting Standards: Where do we start and how can you help?
Help me help you! What can hotels do to help meeting planners go green?
How do I start a carbon offset program?
Ok I’m recycling – now what’s next?
What can the destination provide to help green meetings?

PEC also featured an entire learning track on corporate social responsibility (CSR) including informative presentations about benchmarking green meetings, standards and certification, contract language and liabilities and tips on how to stay green in a brown situation.

In keeping with the green theme, conference organizers:
Used organic cotton bags and lanyards and provided recycling bins for them.
Printed on recycled content paper using vegetable based ink.
Provided recycling stations for paper, glass, plastic and cans.
Powered the conference using 100% wind energy.

A message board was also available for attendees to post information about what they are doing to be green, and provide recommendations for MPI moving forward. Thanks to Shawna McKinley for sharing this information.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Are green meetings just a trend?

No way! Will the green meeting practices continue? Absolutely!

In the “State of Green Business 2008” report, Joel Makower states, “Green business has shifted from a movement to a market. But there is much, much more to do.” Joel’s report covers many areas our industry touches such as transportation, energy efficiency, office space, paper use and recycling. It also provides valuable resources and links. I highly recommend taking a look.

The world media is devoting attention to environmental issues and climate change. Even magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair had issues devoted to green in 2007. The meeting and event industry is no different. Green meetings were featured 42 times in meeting industry trade publications last year. There is a solid buzz that is not slowing down.

While the media hype surrounding green may fade in time, the solid practices being put into place won’t. Planners have found a new way to cut costs, provide a competitive advantage and increase delegate satisfaction. The economic savings alone will ensure we don’t return to past practices.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sharing Best Practices

As co-facilitator for the Green Meetings Special Interest Group at the recent PCMA conference, I had the opportunity to join the group of meeting professionals as they shared their best practices. There was a vast wealth of ideas and expertise as we all learned from each other. I thought I would share a few….

Signage. A planner rented white boards and hired local art students to design and change the signs throughout the conference. Armed with dry erase markers, they went to work. There was a great response as people watched the artists changing the signs between sessions.

Centerpieces. This conference collaborated with the local Boys and Girls Club taking the kids to a ceramic shop where they decorated the pots to be used as centerpieces. The pots were auctioned off at the end of the event with the proceeds going back to the Boys and Girls Club. The pots were filled with herbs which were donated to a local culinary institute.

Transportation. One organization distributed pedometers to conference attendees to promote/encourage travel by foot instead of using transportation vehicles. They then held a contest for those who walked the most and got participants excited. Note: transportation was provided for those unable to walk.

See it can be fun AND green. My guess would be economical too!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The State of Green Meetings 2008

In a 2006, 3.7% of meeting planners were planning green meetings
In a 2008, 42% of association meeting planners are planning green meetings

Wow, what a change! That pretty well sums up what is happening with the green meetings and events industry. What was once considered fringe behavior is now quickly becoming mainstream practice. Planners, hotels, caterers, transportation companies, visitors bureaus and exhibit decorators are all taking a look at their practices and working towards being more environmentally responsible.

All of these organizations are finding that green meetings provide:
-Reduced environmental impact
-Cost savings
-Promotional benefits
-Networking advantages
-Value-added services
-Competitive advantages
-Delegate and employee satisfaction
-Risk reduction

The 2008 Green Meeting Industry Council Conference is promising record attendance with delegates coming from Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, UK, Canada and the US. This is another indicator of how large the hunger for information and networking with others in this industry is right now.

I look forward to using this blog to share more about the business case, trends, ideas, resources and actual case studies of green meetings practices. Stay tuned…