Going Green – Sustainability in the Meetings & Events Industry

In recent decades, sustainability in the meetings and events has become an industry standard.  The concept is often associated with our environment, society, and the economy.  Most companies are cognizant in running their events in an economically successful way, while reducing their impact on the environment. Today, “green meetings” in the M&E industry is commonplace when sourcing and contracting group programs.  And this concept provides both hotels and companies a way to provide sustainability best practices. Sustainability is good for bottom line costs as well as our planet.

It is also important for companies to value “green” policies in both their decision making and planning.  Hotels and venues are often asked about their existing green initiatives on property as part of a bid.  Based on a past survey by the Natural Marketing Institute, it was reported that

“58 percent of U.S. consumers consider a company’s impact on the environment when making final decisions, and more likely to do business with properties that follow sustainable practices”. 

That said, now more than ever, meeting and event professionals are aware of the impact their programs can leave on the environment, and there are various best practices that can positively add to global sustainability and our carbon footprint.

According to an IACC article back in 2020, “one way in which the events industry is beginning to take responsibility is by adhering to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030”.  These include 17 goals in total, which include issues from clean energy to recycling to education and responsible consumption. IACC has also created a Green Star Venue Certification that one can apply for as an industry-wise recognized accreditation.  Once approved, venues can proudly boast that they follow meeting and event standards around the environment and sustainability.

Major hotel chains are completely onboard with sustainability as well and have promised to make a difference. In 2018,

 

Whether sustainability is considered in event pre-planning stages (implementing a specific clause into RFPs), taught by educating consumers (look for venues that recycle, and use renewable energy sources), focused on waste management (reducing extra signage and creating QR codes to decrease unnecessary paper use), or through “green” ideas on F&B (such as organic local food consumption), helping the environment is a key part in managing meetings.  And post Covid, companies that are doing hybrid and virtual events are a part of these green initiatives – simply by reducing transportation costs and decreasing levels of onsite food waste.

Whatever ideas clients and venues may find to improve their own sustainability efforts, it is great to see environmental support across the meeting and event industry.  Best practices continue to be added and evolve – which makes this great world a much better place.  Think about these sample questions when hosting your next event:

  • Do my meeting rooms have windows for natural lighting?  
  • Will you provide cloth rather than disposable table drapes for display tables?  
  • Does your property have a recycling program which allows guests to participate?
  • Does your property donate leftover food to a local non-profit organization? 

No sustainable initiative is too small – and the hospitality industry is undoubtedly helping save our planet!

Samantha

Samantha Meloni is a senior meeting specialist and a 20+ year veteran in the meeting & events industry who contributes to industry-specific pieces for i-Meet. She currently also holds a 3 star Meeting Professional Badge. Feel free to connect with Samantha on LinkedIn, i-Meet and Ive-Been-There.

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