Written by: Desmond Lomas, CMP.
Holding events in a community should leave a positive economic impact. But let’s consider looking beyond this.
We have all witnessed or heard about countless positive achievements as a result of meetings and events. Sadly, there are some negative by-products which might occur. Often it revolves around waste. Food going in the garbage and inadequate recycling programs are a few. How about post-conference when you see homeless people with one of the conference bags handed out to all 1000 delegates. It is good that some of these bags found their way into the hands of people who need them, but clearly there is a large element of the conference population which doesn’t need this bag and left it in the hotel room.
There seems to be a school of thought in our industry, either on the sales side or at the conference itself, that if delegates or customers aren’t given “stuff” they aren’t being shown they are valued.
- Prior to your conference, conduct surveys to find out what your delegates/customers want or need in terms of giveaways. Communicate the results to your exhibitors. You might be able to reduce what finds its way to the trash.
- Find out how venues are contributing to reducing food waste and what green initiatives they have in place. Find out if leftover food ends up feeding those in need.
- It’s shocking to me that I can attend a meeting in the middle of winter where people are too warm and conversely too cold with the AC in the middle of summer. Consider refining the dress code to ease the use of the HVAC system.
- Plastic coffee stir sticks, straws and other single-use plastics need to be eliminated. Enough said.
- Leverage your large numbers and find out if there is something that can be done locally to benefit the host community. I attended one conference where we assembled toiletry kits using repurposed hotel soap for homeless people. Your local DMO or DMC might be able to help you come up with an idea.
This is the on-going industry evolution of making meetings green, then sustainable and now ever-more meaningful.