Monday, June 25, 2012

Where to Find Green Meeting Suppliers

Last week I talked about how many more meeting venues and vendors are going green, making a meeting professionals job easier.  Hooray! Perhaps I should back up my assertion with some resources for you to find those suppliers.  I have put together a short list to get you started and will add to this list from time to time. 

GMIC Green Supplier Directory
This directory just keeps getting better and better with 16 different categories to choose from.  Categories include Accommodations, AV, Communications, Exhibition, Food & Beverage, to Offset Providers all the way to Sustainability Consultants to help you make it happen.  One-stop shopping.

Best Places to MeetGreen 
Choosing a sustainable destination will always make a green meeting planner's job easier.  This website has a list of cities complete with green scores (both verified and unverified) for your selection.

International Association of Conference Centres Green Star
This site is a valuable reference if you are looking for a sustainable conference centre for your meeting or event.

Green Restaurant Association
This searchable site will help you determine the availability of environmentally friendly restaurants near your meeting location or for smaller events.

Promo with Purpose Today
Heidi Thorne just wrote the book, "Eco Friendly Promotional Product Guide" full of helpful advice and this site is full of information and resources.

Feeding America
It has never been easier (or more important) to donate food to a local food bank.  Just type in your zip code or select the state where your event will take place.

These are just the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended) of a growing resource base of environmentally friendly, hospitality industry suppliers.  Seriously, reduce your workload and stress by aligning with a vendor that "walks the talk" of sustainable meetings.  You will be glad you did!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's New in Green Meetings

What's new in green or sustainable meetings?  I find it interesting how frequently I am asked this question.  We are so trained to look for the new, fresh, latest trends in everything we do.  Anxious to be done with the last part, check it off our list and move on to something more exciting.

It might help to think of sustainability in the hospitality industry as a large ship, it doesn't turn on a dime, it takes a while to make a mid-course correction.  Sometimes you just need to keep your hands on the wheel and keep making incremental changes.  Not as exciting, I know.

With that being said, there are some areas of green events that are on the forefront of this correction today:

Measurement – This next step is finally taking hold.  No longer can event organizers and venues say they are "green" without the data to back it up. I was happily surprised at how many of the session presenters at the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Conference had slides full of facts and figures.  This appears to be a precursor to the adoption of standards for most people. 

 Social Responsibility – The industry is readily adopting the notion of some type of CSR project during a conference or event.  This is definitely the first step in social advocacy for meetings.  Its popularity can certainly be linked to the “look good, feel good, team-building” opportunities it presents.

Local, sustainable food -  Everyone wants to eat healthier, fresher foods which is driving this aspect for conferences and events.  Participants are no longer satisfied with anything less, enough said.

Vendors are making it easier – Hotels, convention centers, general service contractors and others are really stepping up to be more sustainable.  Five years ago it was tough to find one of these suppliers with an environmental policy much less, a  product, not so today.  For them it is a competitive advantage, for planners, a welcome relief.

What’s new may be that it’s not new – No longer just a trend and slipping into mainstream, the public requires organizations to be good citizens and to display that at meetings.  If you aren't constantly monitoring social media during your events to find out how your corporate image is coming across, you should be.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Don't Make Me Use the Wand

Standing in line, I dutifully shuffle toward the long metal tables.  As I get closer, I remove my shoes, then my coat.  I empty everything else into a plastic bowl.  My computer comes out of the bag and into a bin.  I have no plastic bottles of liquids.

I step into a large metal machine and put my hands over my head.  Puffs of air blow my skirt and hair while the doors spin around me.

After the scan, I see my x-ray, the transparent outline of my body (a little lumpy from years of wear).  Wait, there's a tube of Chapstick still in my pocket!  Arghhhhh, I was so close to perfect and now everyone around hears about it.

That's how I feel each year when we publish our annual corporate report.  A bit naked to the world, our successes and our challenges out in the open.  Transparent.  But unlike "security theatre" at US airports, it is this level of transparency provided by a corporate report which allows others to see our level of commitment to both environmental and social issues with measurable data.

Corporate reporting is vitally important for all of a business' stakeholders.  It is one way of seeing past the "greenwashing" which has become much too common.  Combined with social media, radical transparency and informed decisions by consumers are more possible than ever before.  It is crucial to our sustainable future.  That's why we do it.

So, here we go.  Shoes off, change in the bowl, and arms overhead, here is the MeetGreen Annual Corporate Report .  Sure, we have some lumps, but at least you won't find any plastic bottles.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why Bother?

Really, isn't enough...enough?  Haven't sustainability and green run their course?  Why is business still talking about doing "the right thing" for our planet and its people?  Because, here in 2012, it is good business.

According to Katherine Manfredi, Conference Partners, and Andrew Walker, E3 Strategy, during their GMIC Conference session, the Seven Key Benefits of Being a Responsible Business are:

  1. Brand Value and Reputation
  2. Employees and Future Workforce
  3. Operational Effectiveness
  4. Risk Reduction and Management
  5. Direct Financial Impact
  6. Organizational Growth
  7. Business Opportunity

With the trending benefit of Responsible Leadership.

No wonder business, especially big business, is still bothering!

For more information: If you attended the GMIC Conference, their slides are now available in the proceedings.  Take a look!  If not, email me and I will forward their contact information.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Free Sustainable Events Resource

Looking for some fundamental questions to ask yourself when getting started planning an event? Here's a list that incorporates green meetings too from the latest sustainable events guide!   Event organizers should ask themselves:

  • What is the purpose of the event? 
  • What are we trying to achieve? 
  • What does success look like? 
  • Do our current planning practices violate any principle of sustainability? 
  • What aspects of our event have the greatest negative impacts on the environment and the local community? What sustainable event practices will help achieve desired outcomes? 
  • What goals and objectives can we identify and how will these be measured to support transparent communication and future planning improvements? 
  • Of these, which do we have the greatest opportunity, or control, to influence? 
  • Do our stakeholders concur that these goals, objectives and measurements are relevant and important? How do we know? 

Now that you know the questions, and maybe even some of the answers, here's the FREE resource to get you going, "Meeting The Future: The Sustainable Events Guide" from the Green Meeting Industry Council and The Natural Step.

Thanks to both of these organizations for producing this guide and to the volunteers who worked on it.  GMIC continues to be the leader in providing practical resources for planners and suppliers to make our planet a better place.

Friday, June 1, 2012

100% Sustainable Meeting

While on holiday in the San Juan Islands earlier this week, I was lucky enough to discover an ancient Native American meeting area overlooking the water.

photo of Native American Meeting Site by Nancy Zavada

Standing back from the site, I considered how effective and collaborative all meetings would be if this is where we still met today.  Gazing out over the bluff or at the meadow would certainly beat the windowless, over air-conditioned rooms where we gather in 2012 to stare at Powerpoint slides or our smart phones. 

And the early meetings certainly did a better job of sustainability...

  • No bottled water
  • Local food
  • Sustainable seafood
  • No disposables
  • No airline transportation
  • Sail or human powered boats
  • Accommodations that you pack up and take with you

I must admit though, it scares me that I ponder these things while away from work.