Monday, February 21, 2011

The Future of Work

What will our roles as meeting professionals look like in the future?

We have been pondering that very issue during the GMIC Conference. Here are some of the pertinent conversations I been involved in...

How will hybrid meetings change the skills we need?
Will there be enough fuel to airlift participants to our events?
Can social media make you feel more connected to the conference community?
How will the shortage of water impact our choices?
Do virtual attendees add or detract from the bottom line?
How can we best measure the impact of meetings? Are the economics the best indicator?

There are more questions than answers as we adapt to the changes brought about by external conditions. It is invigorating to be involved in great discussions with industry thought leaders convened in one location. Join the conversation!

You Gotta See This

Here at GMIC's Sustainable Meetings Conference the virtual world is fully integrated with hundreds of attendees. Over 60 professionals are watching the general session from their offices in Finland, UK and Italy--to name just a few. The Twitter community is going wild! Follow the stream at #gmic. This conference is vastly different than any I have attended In 30 years.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Offer You Can't Resist

Here it is, time to attend GMIC's Sustainable Meetings Conference. As our participation has shifted this year, it will be interesting to see it from a new perspective. I look forward to having more time to reconnect with my fellow professionals who share my passion about this work.

Since we have a great group of like-minded individuals in one place, we thought it was a good time to offer a free trial of the MeetGreen Calculator we re-released last summer. The Calculator was developed anticipating the APEX/ASTM Standards, integrating what is understood to be included. It also allows you to earn points for policies, procedures and measurements that are part of BS8901. Further updates include more thorough quantitative questions and expanded reporting features. The administrative capabilities now allow more sensitivity with user accounts and are very beneficial to companies that have multiple users.

The intention of this offer, is to get feedback on the tool from people in the green meeting industry. This is valuable feedback for us and a great way for users to sample the tool and see what is possible.

If you are interested in a free trial account please look for myself, Amy Spatrisano, Shawna McKinley or Britta Ehnebuske during the GMIC conference. If you aren't attending this year, feel free to email me at and I will make sure you are included in this offer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Case Study: Engaging Your Partners

Business for Social Responsibility has hosted the annual conference at the Grand Hyatt New York every other year since 2004. The hotel's willingness to collaborate has resulted in several "green pilot" programs. Prior to 2008, the hotel did not have a front of house reycling program. During that year's conference, Hyatt placed recycle bins on the meeting room floors and began a recycling program. In 2010, diversion from the hotel's front of house recycling program was measured and benchmark data is now collected.

The grand total was 11,780 pounds of waste diverted from the landfill in 2010!

BSR and Carole Garner, project manager at MeetGreen, took the initiative to enroll the hotel as a valued partner and the Grand Hyatt New York responded. Together they have improved performance and made a difference!

Stay tuned for more excerpts from the BSR 2010 Event Sustainability Report.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Calling All Green Geeks...The Recycling Numbers Are In!

The moment we have been waiting for...the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 2009 report of the US municipal solid waste stream (MSW).

In 2009, the US generated 243 million tons of solid waste, down from 251 million tons in 2008. Of this, 82 million tons were recycled, representing a recycling rate of 33.8%. Not great, but getting better.

What caught my eye were the rates for different recycled materials:

62.1% Paper/paperboard
59.9% Yard trimmings
34.5% Metals (rate would have been much lower if not for the law that requires recycling of lead-acid batteries - 96% of which were recycled in 2009).

The disturbing news was plastics recycling...7.1%
While the recovery rate for all plastics was low, PET bottles (#1) and jars were recovered at a rate of 28% in 2009 and recovery of HDPE bottles (#2) was estimated at 28.9%. The low plastics recovery rate isn't because of lack of demand for recycled plastic. Many fewer curbside programs collect it and there's been huge growth in water and other plastic bottles consumed outside the home where recycling isn't available. Another reminder to skip the individual bottled water for events!

Now that you know the national data, how does your venue or event measure up? Can you brag about how many percentage points you are above the national average to your audience or guests? If not, these figures may give your organization its first goal toward being more sustainable.

Thanks to Sustainable Business for the full story

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Green With Envy

As if to validate my last blog post on how green is luxurious, I came across a posting about The New York Palace in Manhattan and its sustainability initiatives. This 899 room hotel runs on 100 percent renewable energy and has a full-time green practices manager.

If you ask me, there is nothing more pampering than staying in Manhattan in a beautiful, sustainable hotel!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Luxury is Sustainable!

Traveling away from home to attend a meeting usually means long hours, airports and unfamiliar surroundings. When you get to the meeting, don’t you want to feel pampered? Of course you do! So do your conference or event participants. Here are a few tips for making our guests feel special:

• Pour their coffee into china cups instead of Styrofoam. Don't forget the little sugar cube instead of the paper wrapped product.
• Serve them fresh, local specialties so they may enjoy the flavor of the region.
• Select organic and natural food to keep them healthy.
• Opt for hotel rooms not cleaned with toxic chemicals to disrupt their sleep.
• Help their internal clocks fight jet lag by holding your meeting in a room with windows and natural daylight.
• Don’t give them reams of paper handouts to drag around, put the information on a compact USB key.
• Host the meeting as close to home as possible so they won’t miss time with their family and friends.

Your guests will sing your praises for incorporating these pampering, green meeting practices into your next meeting!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day 2011

Just like in the classic movie, Groundhog Day, today is the perfect day to start making changes. Sure, change is scary. Even scarier, is that change is inevitable. If you are not already planning green meetings, you will be asked to do so in the near future. If your property doesn't already have sustainable practices, you will shortly.

If you want to jump start your knowledge of green meeting initiatives, I would highly recommend attending GMIC's Sustainable Meetings Conference later this month.

In the words of the conference's keynote speaker, Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert, Founder, The Natural Step, "The question of reaching sustainability is not about if we will have enough energy, enough food, or other tangible resources... The question is: will there be enough leaders in time?"

Join us as we help take your green meeting strategies to the next level and become future leaders!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Still Tracking 2011 Trends

Trend #6 for 2011. "Being green remains important for many planners who look for properties to have these initiatives in place. In fact, it's generally assumed they do. Government meetings demand it, as does, increasingly the pharmaceutical industry," according to Benchmark Hospitality International's "Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2011" observed by its properties.

Solidly in the top ten trends once again, sustainable meetings and events are being requested (or demanded) consistently. The trend goes on to say that "if asked to choose between being green or providing maximum cost savings, budgets still take precedence." Agreed, this is about business! It is important to note here, if you are a hotelier competing against another property with similar rates, your green initiatives will give you the competitive advantage.

View all of the trends here