Meetings and conferences send attendees home with plenty of new education, new connections and new business opportunities. Unfortunately, they can also leave behind plenty of new waste in host communities. As the conference industry works to reduce its carbon footprint, some hoteliers are dedicating resources to determine how their properties can play big roles in providing solutions.
Take A Look Around The World
One of those global leaders is Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The luxury integrated resort is the first MICE facility in Southeast Asia to earn the coveted ISO 20121 certification in February this year. The mark of distinction is a relatively new international standard that was launched at the 2012 Olympics in London, and it’s designed to help meeting planners partner with venues that have demonstrated an above-and-beyond commitment to reducing waste throughout the entire event management cycle.
While earning the ISO 20121 badge is a big accomplishment for the property, Marina Bay Sands has been on a green path for quite some time. From removing light bulbs and optimizing lighting levels to installing water efficient fittings to recycling more than 160 tons each month, the property is establishing a reputation as one of the most eco-friendly conference venues in the world.
In the US, hoteliers are on-board, too. Marriott recently announced plans to have 300 LEED-certified properties by 2015 while Starwood offers a $5 voucher to guests who decline housekeeping services. Kimpton allows travelers to donate a portion of their room rate to The Trust for Public Land, an initiative to protect parks, gardens and open spaces around the country.
Is Sustainability Really On Attendees’ Minds?
Wait, some meeting professionals might say, are my attendees really that concerned about anything other than their costs? The answer is a resounding yes. Research shows that going green goes a long way with the audience that matters most: the attendees traveling to the conference. According to a 2013 survey conducted by TripAdvisor, 62 percent of travelers often or always consider the environment when choosing hotels, transportation and meals. The trend is poised to continue, too. Sixty-nine percent of respondents in the research indicated they plan to make even more eco-friendly choices in the immediate future.
Heidi Voorhees, MBA, CAE, Senior Vice President of Housing at Experient, says that one of the company’s clients already requesting that hotels include information about the property’s sustainability policies in RFP responses. From biodegradable product usage to food donation programs to reusable storage materials, the RFP includes a range of questions that helps the client understand the hotel’s commitment to the planet. While Voorhees says that sustainability is not a make-or-break part of the deal, she does highlight that the client does like to do business with partners that align with their eco-friendly efforts. Voorhees adds that other clients are slowly starting to add sustainability to their RFPs, too.
It’s clear that the hotel industry is making strides toward a greener future. We’re curious to see what meeting professionals and their organizations are doing to contribute, too. Go to Catalyst to share any steps you’ve taken to reduce the waste at your meeting.
This educational article was brought to you by Marina Bay Sands. Click here to learn even more about the property’s commitment to making every meeting have a big impact on attendees while having a small impact on the environment.