Wednesday, March 30, 2011

With a Little Help From My Friends

Today, more than ever, hospitality industry professionals are producing green meetings and continuously evolving their green meeting practices. Yet, there are still many more just starting out, collecting information on how to begin. Each of us has the opportunity to pass along our knowledge, but do we always take it?

What is your reaction when you are asked, “Could you help me get started with green meeting practices, I don’t know where to begin?”

Do you demystify the process by saying something like, “That is exciting news, I am glad you are taking the initiative to be more sustainable. Let’s grab a cup of coffee and I will tell you about our first steps and some of the resources we used along the way…”


Do you reinforce the idea that it is difficult by saying something like, “Well you have a long journey ahead of you if you are just starting now. Make sure you have management approval and plenty of time for this process. Not to mention, standards are being released soon which will require you to report in nine sectors for a score on four levels…”

Demystify or reinforce? The choice is yours and mine. As much as I want to believe I only demystify the process, I know there are times when I have reinforced the complexity too. Guilty. Unintentional perhaps, but still guilty.

It is important for me to keep in mind there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by helping someone else gather the tools and skills to make our world more sustainable. My words and actions need to reflect that. Anyone else need the reminder too?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Over-the-top Geeky or Cool? You Decide

On the lighter side for your Friday reading...

Yesterday, I was watching the Twitter thread #eclipsecon from my desk here in Portland, Oregon. One of our teams is managing EclipseCon in Santa Clara this week and I wanted to see what the participants were discussing. Suddenly, the tweets started talking about water dripping from the ceiling in one of the breakout rooms.

I immediately used Skype to alert our onsite registration desk (in case they hadn't heard about the issue), who then radioed the closest MeetGreen team member, who had the venue building manager join her in the room, who then took care of the problem. All of this within minutes of the first tweet.

Technology and social media's benefits continue to reveal themselves.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What She Said

After reading Shawna McKinley's blog post entitled, "Is Complexity Killing Event Sustainability," I am compelled to skip additional comments (rare for me I know) and send you directly to her blog. Shawna's articulate post raises concerns many of us in the green meeting world share.

Each of us working in sustainable meetings needs to weigh in as if our future work depends on it. In fact, it does! Without further adieu...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Never Underestimate Your Influence

Don’t think you can have an far-reaching impact, read this…

"Dear Sir:

I have attended the Greenbuild expo 2010 in Chicago last year, it was a great chance for me to gain knowledge. I have admired very much the recycling stations ideas with the posters and the volunteers explaining the details about recycling. Now in Egypt after 25 Jan revolution , every one is trying to help develop the country, with civilized ideas, i wish if you could send me a PDF copy of the poster for the recycling process so that i could hang in my work place and explain its idea to neighbors and every one interested in recycling process."


Name withheld
Senior Architect
Cairo, Egypt

This email was recently sent to USGBC. It is a clear reminder that every step our organizations, and we as individuals, take toward sustainability significantly impacts our global community.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Free Green Meeting Venue Checklist

Over 50% of participants on the GMIC webinar, Simple Steps to Choosing a Green Destination, yesterday include environmental criteria in their RFPs to meeting venues. Another 34% occasionally include criteria and only 13% are not making the request. Venues verify there has been a marked increase in organizations asking about environmental initiatives. Here is a quick list to include in your request for proposals if you are not already doing so.

Request the meeting venue implement the following procedures and practices during the meeting:

• Minimize energy use by reducing the lights, power and heat/air-conditioning during move in and move out times in the exhibit hall and turning off lights in meeting rooms when not in use.
• Purchase green or renewable energy (solar, wind, tidal).
• Provide collection bins, facilities, staffing and training necessary to recycle all glass containers, aluminum and steel cans, plastic bottles, table coverings, pallets, paper (newspaper, cardboard and other office paper), and grease.
• Conserve natural resources by purchasing and providing all paper bathroom supplies with minimum 35% post-consumer recycled content paper.
• Minimize pollution and human exposure to toxic compounds by using environmentally responsible cleaning products for carpets, floors, kitchens, and bathrooms bearing a third-party verified eco-label.
• Minimize air pollution by cleaning parking lots, sidewalks and driveways without the use of two-cycle combustion engines.

If you would like to learn more about choosing a green destination, watch the entire webinar on the GMIC website

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign!

On my way to work this morning, I passed a gas station sign offering regular gas for $3.76/gallon. YIKES! Alarming? Yes, but what really scares me is how it is impacting my livelihood! I use “is” instead of “will” because I can no longer put this issue on the back burner while I continue business as usual and neither can you.

Just two weeks ago at GMIC’s Sustainable Meeting Conference, Ian Lee, an airline industry analyst at Carleton University warned us six out of 14 European airlines will go out of business by 2015 if oil prices remain at US$100 per barrel. If prices reach US$150 per barrel, nine out of 14 will disappear. Lee drew his data from a recent presentation by a senior executive with Irish air carrier Aer Lingus.

Lee commented “the cost of energy will radically impact the airline industry, the tourism industry, the hotel industry and the meeting industry. It will completely transform our economies, and it’s going to undermine globalization” (source: Mitchell Beer’s post, The Meetings Industry Confronts Its Achilles’ Heel”)

Scary, I thought at time. I will definitely have to think about how our organization will retool to continue to thrive in the future…later…after the conference…after catching up when I get back to work…after the weekend and so on. This morning when I looked up at that sign, it might as well have read, “The Future is Here, Nancy!”

Today's to-do list now reads, 1) What can I do right now to guarantee our business is still viable tomorrow?

What’s on your list today?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Case Study: 13 Country "Road Show" Goes Green

Imagine, you have five weeks to advance your company’s vision in these countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine. There will be a total of 8,000 participants. And, by the way, it should be as green as possible.

Malgorzata Brzozowska of Oracle successfully took on this challenge last fall with EE&CIS Oracle Days 2010. Not only did she manage these events, but she also agreed to report back as a Pilot Project for Oracle’s Global Green Team initiative. We applaud her incredible talent and courage. Here are a few of the the highlights in her own words:

• Compared to the past events in EE&CIS, delegate packs have been significantly reduced or replaced by electronic materials

• General rule of Oracle Days 2010 was to use generic branding instead of event branding, which is different than in the past. Some new branding had to be created due to change of company tagline and it will be re-used throughout FY11 for other EE&CIS events so no new branding needs to be produced in the rest of fiscal year.

• Transportation/Travel was one of key success areas. All events are planned in venues well covered by public transportation, executed by local staff and presented in majority by local speakers. International speakers’ travel is planned to minimize cost and maximize use of executives’ time spent at the event - by adding customer 1:1 meetings after keynotes and grouping events with close dates for a keynote speaker who needs to travel. As many EE&CIS countries are small, business is highly centralized in capital cities, where Oracle Days are organized, thus reducing significantly the need for customer travel.

• In addition to the above, many requirements have already been achieved with all suppliers like: serving soft drinks and condiments in bulk containers, not pre-filling glasses or use of individual bottles, using china service, limiting decoration to what’s edible or already existing as standard decoration in the venue, keeping lights and energy off when equipment not in use.

• Where possible, non-smoking hotels were selected. However, this poses a challenge in EE&CIS where smoking is still popular. In most countries, it is already regulated by law prohibiting smoking in public places – but still smoker places are designated areas within the same venue. Selecting a 100% non-smoking venue is also challenging in another way – as some attendees consider it as infringement of their “smoking rights” (!). However, with time and stricter laws also a non-smoking criterion will be gradually achieved in EE&CIS events.

Congratulations to Malgorzata and the Oracle Global Green Team who supported these sustainable efforts!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lesson in Engagement

It was as if there were several events happening simultaneously; twisting and turning coming together and separating. On the surface there were participants giving presentations, attending presentations, networking, eating, laughing and learning together in Portland, Oregon. Virtually, attendees were connected from their homes and offices around the globe. And somewhere between, connecting the two, was a stream of information and discussion eagerly focused on sustainability. It was GMIC’s Sustainable Meetings Conference—gone viral.

The twitter feed, blogs and other social media played a vital role. For the first time, it gave those of us, reluctant to grab the microphone and take center stage, a way to communicate our thoughts and ideas. We shared resources pertinent to the discussion. We sent important points out to those who couldn’t be in the room (in person or virtually). We weighed in without stopping the speaker’s flow. We could “audit” concurrent breakout sessions. Information traveled fast, we were connected.

Were we still “present” during the conference? You bet, probably more so than ever! Face to face conversations were now comfortable to start by commenting on a post from another participant. It was as if the more reserved (yet technically savvy) portion of the meeting community at last had a way to engage.

I salute GMIC for taking a risk, heavily incorporating social media into the program design. For those of you planning conferences who have not embraced this use of technology, try it. You will give a voice to a new segment of your audience and enroll them as never before.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meet Your Dinner

At GMIC’s Sustainable Meetings Conference last week, Chef Ward of the Doubletree Hotel Portland described the salmon we were eating, “Your salmon tonight came from the Columbia River a few miles from here and was caught by the Yakima Tribe.” One mouthful of the succulent fish was enough to confirm this fish was neither farmed nor well-travelled. Through his efforts in working with local Native American tribes, Chef Ward is able to ensure a consistent source of fresh, local salmon and support the community.

Always the skeptic, I wondered if ingredients for the rest of the meals would be delivered by a huge “nationally-recognized” food truck.

Each day arriving at the conference, my path took me past the entrance to the kitchen’s delivery ramp. Instead of seeing 18-wheelers full of food pulling in, here’s what I witnessed:

Day 1: Ma and Pa’s dairy farm delivering fresh eggs and milk products
Day 2: Bill’s Farm delivering the cabbage and beets
Portland Roasting delivering fair-trade coffee
Day 3: Cascade Farms delivering produce grown 30 minutes away
Rose City Brewing Company delivering a favorite neighborhood brew

Although the company names have been changed, you get the picture—small, local food purveyors. The Doubletree Hotel Portland walks the talk down to the last Oregon Coast mushroom!

Confession: As much as we Portlanders don’t want to believe it, this spoof on Portlandia hits close to home