Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Numbers Are Our Friends!

BUYER BEWARE: This symbol with a number in the middle on the bottom of a plastic container doesn't necessarily mean it is easily recycled. It is simply a way to identify what type of plastic it is. Both as a consumer and as a meeting planner it is important to know what your food is served on(in) and how readily it can be kept out of the local landfill. Here is a quick guide for you...

  • #1 PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Used for clear beverage bottles. Widely recyclable, check with your local recycler.
  • #2 HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) : Used for colored bottles and jugs, yogurt containers and other tubs. Widely recyclable, check with your local recycler.
  • #3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Used in some cling wrap and bottles as well as pipes and other construction materials. Not widely recyclable.
  • #4 LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene): used for garbage bags, food storage bags, some cling wraps and bottles. Not widely recyclable.
  • #5 PP (Polypropylene): Used in butter tubs, baby bottles and other rigid containers. Not widely recyclable.
  • #6 PS (Polystryene): Used in foam trays, takeout containers, coolers and egg cartons (also those little black plates you see at banquets). Not widely recyclable. Recommended to avoid.
  • #7 Other (includes polycarbonate and mixed materials). This is a tough one. While some things in this category are not widely recyclable, biodegradable and compostable containers are often lumped into this "other" category. When you see #7, ask more questions.
Source: Real Money

Check with the venue or local hauler to determine what types of plastic are readily recyclable. As an example in Portland, Oregon, #1 and #2 plastic can recycle curbside, all others except #6 can be taken to a local recycling center.

What about #6? Well, good luck finding anyplace to accept it for recycling, it is nearly impossible.  Think of it as the sign of the devil 666, don't use it, order it, or otherwise come in contact!

Otherwise, keep these friendly numbers in mind when purchasing or ordering.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You Are Authorized to Help Each Other

Customer Service...where did it go?  Did it take the ability to think outside of policies, standards and rules with it?  When did we stop being people helping other people and start using "the corporate script?"

I ask these questions because of a series of encounters I have recently had when trying to close accounts for my father.  It started with the power company and went something like this...

"Hello, I am calling to turn of the power at my father's house it was sold today?"

Power company rep: "Are you Mr. Johnston?"

"No, he passed away. I am the executor of the estate."

"You are not authorized on the account and the Privacy Act states I cannot talk to you."

"But I have a letter of testamentary, his death certificate, and his checking account if you need proof."

"I am sorry, I cannot talk to you about this account without Mr. Johnston's approval."

"He's dead. How can I turn off his power?"

"There is nothing I can do until the next homeowners call to start an account.  It will trigger a Death Closure Ticket and the account will be closed.  I must end this call with you right now as I am not authorized to discuss the account with you."

The lack of customer service continued with the hospital...

"Hello, I am calling about the late notice on my father's hospital bill and strong language about being sent to collections.  I had to go through legal paperwork to set up an estate checking account to pay his bills.  It took several months and now I can pay it.  I would appreciate not being sent to collections."

Hospital rep: "We didn't know Mr. Johnston had died.  There is no record of that on my screen."

"He died in your hospital."

"It was your responsibility to inform us.  The computer automatically sends the bills to Mr. Johnston, I have no control over that."

"I thought because he died in Room 484 and this bill includes charges for final procedures on the body, the hospital might have an clue."

"No, you should have called us to inform us of his death and tell us who would be responsible for paying the bill.  If that is you, I will need your credit history."

These actual conversations are just two of the eleven, I have had in the past two months.

They serve as a reminder to me.  In the world of sustainable meetings, as we move forward to implement policies, procedures and standards, let's remember that we are all human.  Let's help each other along the way and not be strident in enforcement of sustainable initiatives.  Let's work together for the sake of our industry and the planet we all share.  Let's not forget that a little understanding goes a long way.

Awkward or "great minds think alike" moment:  After writing this blog, I read Shawna McKinley's recent post and realized how similar our messages are.  Inspired by different experiences, we both put pen to paper (apparently within hours) with a shared hope for a better world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Story Problems

You remember those lessons..."If a train going 60 mph passes another train going 40 mph, how many apples do you have left?"

Case studies are similar, just not as confusing.  In fact, event case studies actually simplify the data by telling the story in away to help the reader learn from the problems and solutions. 

Sharing case studies is a vital step in moving our collective knowledge forward.  They allow us to learn from each others' experiences.  No one wants to learn the lesson "the hard way."

We have recently added three new case studies to our collection:  Oracle OpenWorld 2012, IMEX America 2012 and BSR 2012, found here http://meetgreen.com/free-info/case-studies/ .  We offer them in the spirit of sharing both our successes and our continuous challenges in the green meeting world. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Do You Know Who I Am?

"Hello, I am Mr X's personal assistant and I am calling to let you know he will be at your conference."

"Yes, I understand you have online registration, but Mr X doesn't register online."

"He would like to know if the following (his list of peers) will be there before he gives his final approval."

"Yes, I understand you don't give out the name of other registrants, but Mr. X must know."

"Mr. X will be bringing his press agent, his travel secretary, his presentation coordinator, his close friend and his bodyguard who will need all-access passes at no additional charge."

If you have managed registration for high-level conferences and events this one-sided dialogue probably sounds all too familiar.   After all, front-line customer service an important aspect of the attendee experience we are hired to provide.

After special registrants are dealt with before the event begins, their arrival onsite also triggers concern for the registration staff who want to ensure they are properly handled, especially if most of the participants fall into this category.  We have first-hand knowledge as participants at one of our larger conferences are “Director’s Level” and above representatives of Fortune 100 companies. 

We understand, standing in line at registration isn’t the best use of their time.  Enter the Registration Concierge.

The Registration Concierge stands in front of the bank of registration kiosks greeting all attendees and asking questions to assist them before they reach the desk. They give one-on-one attention, assisting participants through the process in a seamless manner.   It minimizes guests waiting in the wrong line and ends the frustration.  VIP participants are spotted early and assisted appropriately.  The Concierge paves the way and provides a warm welcome to the event for everyone.

Such a simple solution and gracious way to address the busy, tired traveler who most likely just struggled their way through airports, ground transit and security systems while dragging heavy bags.  At that point, we humans have one thing in common, we just want a friendly face to say hello, help us get checked in to the event and on our way.