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.