Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Standing on the 50 Yard Line

In July of 2007, we were standing on the football field in Giants Stadium making preparations to bring sustainability to a very large sports arena.  How could we possibly recycle, compost and otherwise divert the waste of 51,000 screaming fans?  In our case, the fans were concert goers for the Live Earth Festival and the greening of sports venues hadn't caught on as it has today.

It was daunting at best, but mostly terrifying.   As I stood on the fifty-yard line my initial “freeze-fight-flight” response was to run across the field, up the stairs and get the first plane home.  Thanks to my fellow MeetGreen team members, who believed we could make a difference even though their knees were knocking too, I stayed on the field.

As the media hype builds surrounding the Super Bowl in Giants Stadium (now MetLife Stadium), I am having flashbacks of:
  • working with unions who weren’t really interested in sustainability when it would be much easier to just use bulldozers to clean up the parking lot trash and haul it away.
  • conversations with caterers who didn’t know how to source food containers that could go into the compost stream with the uneaten food.
  • convincing sponsors who wanted to hand out little plastic sample cups and spoons of their organic product, there must be a better way to minimize the packaging.
  • managing volunteers who donated their time to help teach concert-goers from New Jersey and New York how to recycle, when most of them hadn’t started recycling at home.
The plan came together and through the commitment of so many, Giants Stadium was able to divert 76% of the waste from the landfill.  The Stadium Operations Team was the true MVP of the day because without their dedication and hard work, the project would have never been successful.   Even after the event, they hoped to be able to incorporate many of the practices they learned on Live Earth and carry them through to the new stadium when it was built.

Fast forward to 2014, where the headlines read this will be the “Greenest Super Bowl Ever.”   This time I am watching from the stands (aka my couch) not the 50 yard line.  I am rooting for the Stadium Operations Team we worked with and hoping that the groundwork we laid together nearly 7 years ago has made their greening efforts a little easier this week.

Go Team!!!

Past blogs with links about greening Giants Stadium and the Live Earth Concerts:  Leaving a Legacy and Hotter Than It Should Be.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's Alive!

You can't get much fresher than stepping up to a lunch buffet and having your salad hand cut for you.  Selecting from red leaf, butter, arugula, romaine and a variety of other lettuce was the only difficult problem.  This Living Salad Bar was showcased at the GMIC Oregon Chapter luncheon.  Appropriately, the focus of the meeting was on "Sustainable Food and Beverage."

As if that wasn't enough, lunch also featured locally-caught salmon, crabcakes and marinated vegetables which still tasted of the summer sun.  To finish off lunch, handmade (local) truffles.

Perhaps it should have been called "Pampering Your Guest Food and Beverage," but isn't that really what sustainability is all about?


Friday, January 10, 2014

What if "Good Customer Service" was the Entire Marketing Plan?

 Stepping up to the restaurant counter I am greeted by a surly worker who clearly doesn’t want to be there or take my order.  My meal is prepared by another equally unenthused employee who slaps the food together, snaps the to-go container shut and hurls it over the counter towards me.  This scene is repeated over and over again millions of times a day in airports everywhere.  

As a traveler, I am constantly amazed at the poor service in each and every airport outlet I visit.  Later that evening as I watch TV in my hotel room, I am inundated by slick, flashy ads for the same food chain telling me what a delightful experience a visit to their restaurant will be.  

In another glaring example, two different meeting venue managers recently sent me emails thanking me for my business at their venue while apologizing for not seeing me personally during my stay because they were “ busy.”  It is important to note, we were physically in their building 14 hours a day for 8 days, running an event using the entire building, yet they were too “busy” to stop by?  I nearly told both of them to stop making sales calls and working on their marketing plan long enough to walk down the hall and say hello and thanks for the business.   To make those already using their property feel welcome and appreciated.

Our team of meeting professionals is constantly on the ground, front line with conference participants.  When attendees step up to the registration counter for their name badge, they want to be greeted by a warm smile after their long journey, they want help getting acclimated to the event and they don’t want to be hassled.  That is what any of us would all want and that’s what they get.  It doesn’t matter if it the first time or the 1,000th time we have heard the same question.

The team exceeds the client’s expectations by taking care of every detail, so our clients can convene their communities and make the world a better place.  The rooms are set, the food is served, the exhibit hall is open, the audio visual is working and sustainable practices are in place.  That’s our job.  We make the event run smoothly with a flair for solving issues as they arise.  

We are only as good as our last event.  Word travels quickly in this industry and most of our clients have come to us after being referred by someone who has seen our team in action and experienced one of our conferences.  We still work for the first client who hired us 20 years ago.   

My point here is not to boast about our work, but to use it as an example of marketing at its best.  We don’t need to advertise to tell people about our capabilities, the integrity of our work, or the experience they will have if they hire us.  They won’t be promised one thing and experience another.

That’s all I want from any service.  Save the money spent on expensive, image building ads and make sure the person helping me has what they need to excel whether it be training, skills, compensation or compassion.  

Imagine a world where everyone does their job with the spirit of an adventurer not the drudgery of a prisoner.  The word would spread and people would come back time after time not because of the marketing plan but because the employees enjoy their work and are doing their job well.  

This blog post was inspired by the people who work with me.  Even when their feet hurt, their stomachs are growling and sleep is long overdue, never miss a chance to make sure a conference participant is well cared for.