Thursday, July 29, 2010

Data to Track the Data, OMG!

Our conversations about measurement during the past few weeks lead us to believe our peers, clients, friends and vendors are all in different stages of the data game. Whether you are currently "not measuring" or "measuring and reporting on every little thing" or somewhere in between like most of us, there is currently no information available on where the meeting and event industry falls in this continuum.

We are very curious and decided to post a straw poll to see if we could gather more data about gathering data (clearly, we have gone over the edge). Please help us by clicking here and taking our survey. We can't give you an IPad for answering because we are not collecting your contact information. But I will post the results.

Feel free to have others in the industry take the survey as well. Thanks for taking a few minutes of your valuable time!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It Is Just That Simple

“Sustainable means doing the right thing every time no matter what.”

-John Furlong, MPI-WEC general session speaker and CEO of Vancouver’s Olympic organizing committee

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yep, Data Confirms It!

“This data confirms something we’ve long suspected,” boasts Alison Presley, Manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good Program.

Travelocity allows consumers to rate its hotels on a scale of 1-5 smiley faces. When the company studied the reviews for green hotels, a fascinating trend emerged. Consumers gave 83 percent of non-green hotels three smiley faces or more--but they gave a whopping 94 percent of green hotels three smiley faces or more. “Our eco-friendly hotels care deeply about the entire experience they provide and that attention to detail translates into an awesome stay overall,” states Presley. Here's the full story

While I will admit I have been on a "data binge" lately to make a point about the importance of measuring and reporting, the reality is our industry is now embracing measurement as the next step in this journey so the data is free-flowing and readily available. Just like in the Travelocity article--the data confirms it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

First Things First

Reduce first and then recycle. That’s what we are taught. If you don’t need it to start with, the chances of it not ending up in the landfill are much better. Point taken. But when you get praise for the amount you reuse or recycle, it is often difficult to tell the less obvious story of reduction. For example, if you donate 325 leftover conference bags to a local charity after an event, that is great. But what could you have saved both economically and environmentally if you never ordered those extra 325 bags?

Now thanks to the UUA General Assembly (and MeetGreen’s Data Poet Shawna McKinley) there is data to show how impressive reduction really can be.

According to Shawna, “Dramatic reduction in materials brought to and disposed of onsite at the General Assembly is a testament to source reduction by the UUA and the benefits of working with more green-minded suppliers that purchase things with less packaging and reuse more of their materials:

• 53% reduction in total materials disposed of between 2008 and 2009.
• 46% reduction in total materials disposed of between 2009 and 2010.
• 20% reduction in materials shipped to show site by UUA between 2009 and 2010.”

Less materials purchased, less freight costs, less production costs, less handling by staff during the General Assembly and less to be disposed of. The environmental savings are usually matched by the economic savings—in this case alone, $1,200 in shipping costs in 2010.

If you need help with your reduction plan, start by asking yourself these questions…

• Is it necessary to do this?
• Is there a better way to achieve the same objective?
• Have we reviewed our options in the last six months?
• How can we get better information to decrease our order and prevent leftover items?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

APEX Standards: FAQs

We realize there are more questions than answers out there today about the APEX Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards. So we have asked our own Amy Spatrisano, Chair of the APEX Panel, to start us off by answering the top four of the most frequently asked...

What are the sectors of the standards?
Sectors are the 9 areas of meeting management: accommodations, audio/visual , communications, destination selection, exhibits, food/beverage, meeting venue, onsite office and transportation.

How do I “meet the standards”?
There are two parts to this answer. The first starts by choosing any single sector of your meeting or event--say accommodations. You can "meet the Accommodations Standard" in this single sector by having both the planner and supplier score at least at a Level 1.

The second would be for the entire meeting. If you want to claim your meeting "met the Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standard," then you would have to score at least a Level 1 in all the relevant sectors.

Is there a certification available?
Certification is under development in partnership between the Green Meeting Industry Council and the Convention Industry Council (the same body that oversees the Certified Meeting Professional program). The standards must be tested in the market place first to ensure any necessary changes take place before the certification is complete. Tentative launch time for certification is early 2012.

And now the big question we all want to know...How much extra time will this take?
As with any process in the beginning, there will be a learning curve. You will have to integrate the standards within your current practices. Once the integration occurs, the process is intended to be minimal. Again, this will depend on a variety of factors. For example: As a planner if you’re only selecting suppliers that meet the standard, then your time commitment should be minimal. If you don't, you’ll need to negotiate and educate them--taking extra time and energy. Suppliers: integrate the standards as part of how you do business and there won’t be extra time (and increased business I would suspect).

Now, take a deep breath and remember we are on this journey together and this blog is a resource for you. I will post information to minimize the learning curve whenever possible and will be on the lookout for case studies to help us learn from each other. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Measuring Up: APEX Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards

We've been talking a lot about measurement lately and finally the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards are close to being launched. The question, "How do I know if my meeting is green?" can finally be answered with recognized standards. To get you started, The Green Meeting Industry Council will present a day long training session at the MPI WEC Conference next week in Vancouver, BC.

Amy Spatrisano, MeetGreen, chaired the APEX Panel to develop the standards and answers questions to give us a sneak peak...

What is the purpose of the standards?
The voluntary standards can be implemented to create a more sustainable meeting or event. They are measurable, available in a tiered system to allow for different levels of engagement, address policies and hold both the supplier and planner accountable for implementing them. They are intended to be complimentary to other meeting industry recognized standards.

How do I use the standards?

You can use them:
1. To acceptably assert the meeting is environmentally sustainable.
Currently there are no accepted criteria for meeting professionals to lay claims to planning or delivering green or sustainable meetings. The standards are intended to provide consistent criteria that all meetings should follow if they are going to be considered or marketed green or environmentally sustainable.

2. As a tool to help you implement environmentally sustainable meetings.
The standards are structured to work as a resource, a guide if you will. They provide a framework of specific measurable criteria for you to follow and the standards include resources.

3. As a competitive advantage for –
Planners: By integrating the standards in your meeting practices will illustrate your ability to execute at an industry recognized level of performance. In doing so, you will be elevating your expertise and marketability as a meeting professional.
Suppliers: By providing green/sustainable meeting offering you’ll be able to respond to growing client demand, remain competitive and elevate public perception of your product or services.

We'll ask her about the "how-to's" of implementing the standards in the next post.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our Data Poet Laureate

Yesterday I talked about putting data to work for you. In my early years as a meeting professional, I never--in my wildest dreams--would have considered environmental impact data vitally important to the future of my meetings. But times have changed and so has the role of today's meeting professional.

My thanks to our Data Poet Laureate, Shawna McKinley, for patiently teaching me the significance of measuring and reporting on the conferences we manage. She is the driving force here at MeetGreen and has made believers of even the most skeptical on the team.

For example: we measure both client events and our internal practices to determine if there is continuous improvement. The first year we chose our key performance indicators (KPIs) to be consistently tracked. We then gathered the information (sometimes Shawna used a carrot and sometimes a stick to motivate us) and established baseline metrics.

Now each year, we are able to assess and report on our progress. As a result, we found an interesting statistic--by helping our clients avoid an estimated $2.5 million in costs by greening their events--the return on investment is 20 times the cost of hiring us! If we had not measured, we would have no proof of our economic value to clients.

Shawna, your value to the planet is the one thing you will never be able to measure!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Data Poetry

You have recycled, conserved, reused, diverted, minimized and monitored. Now it is time to reap the benefits--the data. Because if you are going to invest the time and energy to implement sustainable practices; why not track those initiatives?

Here is an example of what collecting the data can do for you.

Let's say you are producing a conference program using the equivalent of 30,000 sheets of paper and have switched from virgin paper to 100% post-consumer recycled paper this year. You know you have had a positive effect upon the environment--but how large? Now use the handy the Neenah Environmental Calculator to do your work for you.

With a push of a button you will learn making this one change saves 1,313 pounds of wood, but it also tells you it saves a total of 4 trees that supply enough oxygen for 2 people annually. You also saved 1,917 gallons of water enought to take 111 eight minute showers.

The raw data is now a compelling mental picture--that's data poetry. This poetry enables you to enroll your key stakeholders--senior management, clients, shareholders, media, attendees--and share your story. One that can only be told if you measure your sustainable practices.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Team of Champions

Recently, I have shared another series of stories about different champions around the country who are making a difference in their organizations. Passionate individuals who make sustainability a part of their daily activities and enroll others to join them. Leadership in it's truest form. You may well be one of those champions.

If you haven't already started a green team in your organization, look for other champions in all areas and at all levels and get started. One of the intangible benefits of this work is the ability to work outside of your traditional role with other thought leaders and as a result, be recognized as a valuable asset by a new set of colleagues. just launched the Green Team Resource Center to help you along the way. They will post the latest reports, case studies, and other resources on the topic of employee engagment.

For well-established Green Teams, you may be wondering, "What's next?" The Resource Center has great ideas to help with that as well.