One of the key components of producing a sustainable event is transportation to the event itself. Too often this important factor is overlooked or, in the case of air travel, ignored like the elephant in the room. We will leave air travel for a subsequent blog and today focus on ground transportation. Savvy event hosts know the importance of selecting a destination with mass transit from the airport to the meeting venue and to accommodations. Also considering from those locations to attractions and restaurants attendees want to visit. It saves both economically and environmentally by reducing the need for rental cars, taxis and shuttle buses. Offering the option to ride the rails within the city is cost effective, sustainable, and providing the attendee an experience of the host city for the event.

In the report authored by American Public Transportation Association, A New Partnership: Rail Transit and Convention Growth documenting the survey, there is yet another good reason for cities to provide mass transit…more business.

“Cities with rail transit service or “rail cities” direct from the nearby, heavily trafficked airport to hotels realize increased economic vitality and competitiveness to attract large meetings and events compared to similar cities that do not, or “non-rail cities.” In fact, when examining rail cities’ hotel performance in contrast to non-rail cities over the past six years (from 2006 into 2013), including during the Great Recession, hotel performance was on average 10.9 percent better in terms of both average daily rate charged for hotel rooms and revenue earned per available room. When narrowing the focus to hotel properties located in close proximity (within 1/4 mile of a rail station) of these interconnected transit options, performance was even better, with an average 12.5 percent higher occupancy rate and nearly 50 percent higher (48.6%) average daily room rates. These findings suggest that hotel properties located in rail cities and within close proximity to rail transit stations are realizing both improved economic vitality and increased attractiveness when it comes to seizing an increased share of travelers.”

During the site selection process, sustainable event organizers look to destinations that can provide mass transit as one of the key criteria. The report discusses the demographics of the event participants showing millennials and empty nesters alike are more likely to choose this form of transportation between the airport and their hotel.

“Rail connections to the airport terminal allow greater choice in how travelers interface with a region’s amenities, and this study shows that the availability of rail access to airport terminals can actually strengthen the attractiveness of destinations overall as well the performance of properties near rail stations – particularly when it comes to welcoming meeting and convention attendees. The United States is home to many cities that accommodate business travel, particularly meetings and conventions. This report examines the hotel performance of cities with interconnected transportation and those without. To more clearly define the comparison of cities with or without transit, in this report,”“rail cities” are defined as those with direct access to airport terminals via rail and “non-rail cities” are those without. According to this logic, six cities will be examined as rail cities: (1) Atlanta, (2) Chicago, (3) District of Columbia, (4) Minneapolis, (5) Portland and (6) San Francisco.

While this study doesn’t investigate the environmental benefits of rail connections, it does show a well-documented reason for cities to embark upon increasing or improving public transit options. As an unintended consequence, it provides an unexpected benefit to sustainable organizations hosting events. Read the full report for more details.