Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Green Venues: Foundation for Green Destinations (Updated January 2012)

David H. Lawrence Convention Center

Event venues are the corner-stone of a destination’s product. Whether expanding, renovating or undertaking new builds, event venues worldwide are being constructed with "green" principles in mind. But what makes a venue sustainable? Although it always pays to do your own research, certifications, standards and eco-labels can help you learn how "green" is "green" when it comes the event venues. The following post itemizes specific event venues for sustainability according to the following credentials:
  • LEED certification
  • Green Seal certification
  • Green Key eco-label
  • ISO 14000 certification
  • EarthCheck certification
  • Other national and regional programs

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. Destinations with completed LEED-certified venues include:

Centre Des Congres de Quebec
Constructed features are not the only aspect of a sustainable venue, however. Attention should also be paid to how facilities are operated on an on-going basis. Key questions for planners to ask venue managers include:
  • Is there an sustainability policy in place that is signed by upper management and implemented consistently throughout the facility?
  • Are staff trained to practice sustainability daily?
  • Can environmental management practices be measured and substantiated on an on-going basis? 

Green Seal also certifies hotel and lodging properties for environmental practices. Where the property also provides meeting space this standard may help give an indication of how prepared a hotel is to host a more sustainable event. An up-to-date list of properties meeting Green Seal's standard for hotel and lodging can be found here. Most properties as USA-based.

Green Key Global provides a similar international program that recognizes accommodation providers for sustainable practices. In addition to identifying lodging criteria, Green Key also operates a Green Meetings program. Specific properties participating in Green Key can be found here.

A key difference between these two programs is that Green Seal certification requires an onsite verification by an independent auditor. Conversely approximately 20% of Green Key Global hotels experience onsite audits.

ISO 14000 offers frameworks to certify venues for the presence of environmental management systems. The following destinations offer facilities that are ISO 14000 certified:
Edinburgh International Conference Centre

EarthCheck has also certified venues in the following destinations for environmental practices:

Other centres participating in regional, local or other green initiatives include:

Hotel venues in the USA may also participate in EnergyStar for Hospitality, a program designed to reduce energy use and cost. Hospitality venues participating in this program can be queried here.

Note to venues: If you would like to be included in this list please submit a comment below including your email address. To be considered for inclusion your venue must possess a recognizable and reputable accreditation, certification or eco-label.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Friday, 20 April 2007

DMO Certifications: Opportunities for Sustainable Practices?

Might it soon be possible for destination marketers to receive accreditation recognition for their sustainable practices?

In January 2007 Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) launched their Destination Marketing Accreditation Program. The Program provides a method to assure clients that destination marketing organizations (DMO’s) are following proper practice and conforming to an acceptable level of performance for the industry as a whole.

At present the framework for accreditation does not outline specific standards for sustainability. That said, allowances have been made for special Innovations in practice by DMO’s, which may include “green” programmes.

Stay tuned for further information on how or if the 15 accredited DMO’s may have responded to the Innovations standard in outlined in the accreditation.

In addition to DMAI’s accreditation, the BestCities Global Alliance has also recently launched a Global Certification Program for convention bureaus. According to Steen Jakobsen of Wonderful Copenhagen, a BestCities Alliance member, the criteria adopted under the certification do not presently include standards for sustainability.

Visit London Showcases Green Exhibit Stand Ideas

I recently returned from IMEX and was reminded of the depth of sustainable practice possible by destination marketers.

Each year IMEX and the Green Meeting Industry Council sponsor a Green Exhibitor Award at the show, which attracts exhibitors from over 150 destinations and 14,000 industry professionals from around the globe. The nominees for the Award are asked to describe how their stand reduces environmental impacts and provides positive contributions to host communities.

The winner of this year’s award was Visit London. Visit London’s approach not only pays attention to the creative requirements of an exhibition trade show booth, but also gives preference to environmentally-preferable products that reduce waste, can be re-used and are made of recycled content materials.

Visit London’s uniquely environmental stand features at IMEX 2007 included:

  • Green Partner Pods providing information on stand partners. These information kiosks are not lighted, make use of durable reusable materials which are fully recyclable and able to be shipped without extensive bubble wrap and packing. Compact and light design reduces shipping and storage requirements. Stand partners are encouraged to reduce the use of unnecessary collateral materials and re-use pod graphics where possible. Where new graphics are used or stand partners change new graphics are overlayed over boards used in previous years.
  • Reusable flooring. Visit London's stand makes use of raised mdf flooring which is cut down and re-used in the manufacturing of cupboards.
  • Reduced transportation. Stand components are stored centrally, near communities where exhibits are held to reduce the overall transportation footprint for stand components. Visit London also decided to use local contractors for the stand to reduce carbon emissions by not sending UK based staff. In addition Visit London already participates in a carbon offset programme to neutralise staff and product travel emissions.
  • Belu water. Visit London provided bottled water on its stand that is purchased with social responsibility in mind. Belu water funds clean water projects throughout the globe.
  • Reduced collateral materials. Visit London continues to cut down on printed collateral material at their stand, using pdf’s saved to a usb plug to distribute literature on site. Badge scanning and providing follow-up materials by email further reduced paper use.
  • Green Unit. Visit London has its own in-house committee to educate staff regarding environmental issues and take action to reduce the organisation’s impact on the planet. For further information please visit Future London.

In addition to the Award winning stand from VisitLondon the efforts of the Kenyan Tourism Board and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau were also applauded.

Sri Lanka’s stand featured low voltage lighting and natural sisal carpeting. The entire stand was designed with re-use in mind, making use of graphics and framing that can re-used a minimum of 4 times. Give away items were made from local natural materials.

The Kenyan Tourist Board supports local community groups in Kenya by purchasing 90% of their giveaways from tradeshows from these groups.

The first Green Exhibitor Award was won by Sri Lanka in 2006. As a result of their win the destination marketing organisation was able to earn additional financial support to expand the size of their booth at IMEX 2007.

Emerging Research: Modeling Green Destination Practice and Testing Markets


By Shawna McKinley
Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication Thesis
Royal Roads University
August 2006


Event professionals have begun to develop policies and practices that conserve resources and reduce waste. Planners are considering environmental aspects of prospective destinations and cities are responding by developing strategies that cater to this market.

In order to better understand the viability of green event management, this studyexamined two perspectives in the delivery of green events:

  1. Expectations and satisfaction of event planners (the demand side), and
  2. Strategies employed by destinations to provide green event services (the supply side).

Analysis of three event destination cities reveals specific strategies that create a green image that can be substantiated by real environmental practices. Although these practices are important and rated good or very good by planners, they are not considered to be critical destination selection factors by event planners. Study results are used to identify priority opportunities for convention and visitor bureaus to become more competitive and sustainable.


International policy documents, industry and academic research and discussion with
professionals in the meeting and event sector substantiate the following observations:

  • Global environmental crises exist that affect the tourism industry. Tourism, including the meeting and event sector, affects the environment and has an opportunity to address these environmental issues.
  • Environmental quality is linked to destination attractiveness and competitiveness.
  • Event planners have environmental preferences, but they appear to be secondary in their destination selection decisions.
  • Event planners have complex destination preferences which influence decision making.
  • Destination managers are challenged to sustain the environmental quality of their destination, which is important to planners, even though environmental programs are not particularly marketable to planners.


This project considered three main questions:

  1. What strategies are used by green destinations to attract green events?
  2. How do event planners select a green destination?
  3. Are event planners satisfied with the product provided by green destinations?

Collectively these questions seek to understand how different convention and visitor bureaus (CVB’s) as destination suppliers are using green strategies to distinguish themselves in the event market and whether or not these strategies match the demand for green destinations by event planners. The findings are used to suggest how destinations might plan a prioritized approach to environmental issues as a means to improve competitiveness and advance sustainability.


The following two approaches were adopted to explore the research questions:

  1. Supply Study: A case study to identify green strategies adopted by three convention and visitor bureaus in the cities of Pittsburgh, Portland and Vancouver.
  2. Demand Study: An online survey of event planners concerning their expectations and experience in the case study destinations.


Study findings reveal:

  • A diversity of strategies are being employed by event destinations that are perceived as ‘green’. These strategies have been adopted in varying degrees by the case study destinations and include both management and marketing tactics. Tactics therefore focus on both promoting the image of a green destination, along with maintaining the integrity of these marketing claims through various destination management strategies.
  • Event planners consider convention and visitors bureaux, requests for proposals and web sites to be extremely important in acquiring information about prospective destinations.
  • Planners have a high degree of influence over the selection of event destination cities.
  • Planners perceive environmental aspects of destinations, accommodations and event venues as important.
  • Energy efficiency and linen and towel reuse programs are considered to be quite to extremely important for accommodations.
  • China and linen catering service, food donation, recycling/reuse programs, energy efficiency and local, organic and/or vegetarian menus have the highest degrees of importance for meeting venues.
  • Walkable venues are easily the most important environmental criteria for host cities, followed by available local transit and municipal recycling and reuse programs.
  • Environmental certification appears to be the least important environmental criteria for planners.
  • Environmental criteria may be of secondary importance when compared to other non-environmental destination selection criteria, such as destination accessibility, the cost and availability of event venues and accommodation, destination attractiveness, quality of customer service and safety and security.
  • Overall planners are very satisfied with the meeting product offered by the case study destinations.
  • Environmental practices present opportunities to improve destination competitiveness for destination selection criteria that are most important to planners (i.e. destination accessibility and meeting facility and accommodation cost).
  • Most important destination selection criteria between destinations being equal environmental criteria can come into play for certain planners who deem it important, presenting competitive advantages for green event destinations.


Having acquired an understanding of the nature of green event destination supply and demand, what can the results show us about alignment between green CVB strategies and planner needs and how can this be used as a management tool for practitioners? The following three approaches have been used to illustrate connections between green event destination supply and demand:

  1. Green Destination Supply-Demand Model: This Model combines the survey and case study results to show the links between green event destination supply and demand.
  2. Performance-improvement matrices: This tool can be used to show the relative importance and performance of the destination in terms of both environmental and non-environmental destination selection criteria. The matrices show areas of excellence destinations should continue to focus on, and other areas that may require more attention.
  3. Green Destination Action Grid: The Grid shows where opportunities might exist to implement or influence the development of environmental practices that are important to planners. Similarly, it can show strategies from which resources may be diverted to focus on other higher priority areas related to destination competitiveness and sustainability.

It is important to state that CVB’s have limited ability to meet all aspects of destination demand. CVB’s are able to direct and control environmental aspects of their own operations including policy development, marketing, purchasing and employee activities. Beyond this however, they are only able to influence the activities of members and partner agencies to meet aspects of green event destination demand. This can be a challenging process as members and partners can be reluctant to invest the resources necessary to improve their environmental performance. Members may also be skeptical of cost efficiencies, competitive advantages and the actual environmental benefits of green practices. Although they do not have the direct ability to control the activities of these external groups, CVB’s are able to influence through incentives, training, advocacy, and lobbying.


Environmental responsibility has become a daily practice for many sectors of the tourism industry, particularly those involved in nature-based activities. The adoption of such practices is grounded in a stewardship ethic for the conservation of the earth’s resources, as well as a desire to maintain the integrity of the attractions upon which tourism depends. This study has sought to analyse how this practice is being approached by the event destination sector and has determined:

  • To be competitive event destinations need to pay close attention to a complex diversity of destination selection factors that are important to planners.
  • Destination professionals must also invest in maintaining and improving their attractions, including environmental aspects, in order to sustain their appeal.
  • CVB’s are challenged to manage limited resources in order to best be competitive and sustainable where environmental programs – although important – are not a primary destination selection criteria for planners.
  • Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Portland have emerged as leaders in attempting to meet this evolving challenge and collectively provide a good description of what presently epitomizes a green event destination.

Into the future competitive and sustainable CVB’s would be well informed to:

  • Invest in those destination selection and environmental aspects that are important to planners. This should include continued investment in aspects that are rated of high importance and satisfaction by planners, as well as those that are important, but rated lower in performance by planners.
  • Invest in environmental practices that can supplement destination competitiveness concerning primary destination selection criteria (i.e. cost and accessibility).
  • Communicate information regarding destination environmental attributes, which may tip the scales in favour of their destination where all primary decision making criteria are being met by prospective destinations under consideration by planners.
  • Seek out and market to those groups that should share destination environmental values, including non-governmental groups with environmental mandates, governmental organizations, businesses with well-rated corporate responsibility programs, and members of green-minded organizations, such as the Green Meeting Industry Council.

Further information, including more detailed results from the study can be acquired by contacting shawnamckinley@gmail.com.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Perthshire Tourism Board Goes Green

Photo: Perthshire Tourist Board

"As an Area Tourist Board one of our key objectives is to position Perthshire as one of the most highly regarded green destinations in Europe. To encourage participation in the Green Tourism Business Scheme by the other businesses we felt we should take part and put our own house in order. It has been a thoroughly worthwhile exercise resulting in operational improvements, cost savings and staff development. All tourism businesses should be concerned with conserving the wonderful environment that supports us - the integration of sustainable practices into successful business is the only way forward"

~ Douglas Ritchie, Chief Executive, Perthshire Tourist Board

Perthshire Tourist Board (PTB) is one of the 14 Area Tourist Boards in Scotland and is a partnership between Perth & Kinross Council, VisitScotland and over 1,000 local tourism businesses that join the board through its membership structure.

The primary function of PTB is to work with local businesses to market Perthshire as an attractive destination in ways that generate additional spend in the area. PTB employs 60 staff and runs a Head Office and eight Tourist Information Centres (TICs), all of which are open throughout the year and collectively welcome in the region of 415,000 visitors.

Read more about the story of Perthshire's green destination journey. Perthshire Tourism Board web site.

Green Event Destination Certification

Certification is a common tool to help consumers make environmentally informed purchasing decisions. Sadly no certification or eco-label presently exists that expressly certifies a green event destination, making it challenging for meeting hosts and planners to find and select green cities for their meetings. For this reason the onus falls to the planner and host to research their options, assess them and decide which city meets their goals for sustainability, as well as other strategic objectives.

In certain regions green accreditation schemes have been developed to certify eco-tourism destinations, tourism offices and meeting suppliers (such as hotels and conference venues).

The Green Tourism Business Scheme does offer a framework for convention and visitor bureaus to certify their offices and information centres for sustainable practices in the United Kingdom. The Scheme uses over 120 measures of sustainability that businesses can choose to implement in order to earn either Bronze, Silver or Gold accreditation.

Travel Green Wisconsin is a state-based voluntary certification program that recognizes businesses that have made a commitment to continuously improving their operations in order to reduce their environmental and social impact. This state-based scheme has accredited convention and visitor bureaus for sustainable practice, although also certifies a diversity of tourism businesses.

Green Globe has also developed a Community and Destination Standard for cities that are marketing and managing themselves for sustainable tourism. The program presents a comprehensive list of criteria, although does not specifically consider services and products required by the meeting sector.

When selecting a product or service on the basis of an environmental certification caveat emptor should always apply, and this is no different in the case of green event destinations. Consumers are well advised to pay close attention to:
  • The criteria adopted by the certification or eco-label.
  • The degree of information disclosure required of the certified party.
  • The frequency of re-certification.
  • The involvement of a third-party in the development of criteria and the assessment process.
Meeting professionals are challenged to ensure they research and ask questions about all of these when it comes to determining how ‘green’ and ‘natural’ event destinations really are.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Which US Cities are Most Sustainable? 2006 Rankings

The SustainLane 2006 US city rankings of the 50 largest cities is the nation’s most complete report card on urban sustainability. The rankings explain how people’s quality of life and city economic and management preparedness are likely to fare in the face of an uncertain future. The index gauges a diversity of factors that contribute to urban sustainability, such as:
  • public transit
  • air quality
  • tap water quality
  • solid waste diversion
  • planning/land use
  • housing affordability
  • energy/climate change policy
  • local food/agriculture
  • green economy
  • LEED (green) buildings

Top ranked cities in 2006 include:
  1. Portland, OR
  2. San Francisco
  3. Seattle
  4. Chicago
  5. Oakland
  6. New York City
  7. Boston
  8. Philadelphia
  9. Denver
  10. Minneapolis

For further information please visit SustainLane's web site.

GMIC Launches Industry Report and Call to Action on Green Meetings

According to recent research 67% of meeting and incentive professionals have taken environmental considerations into account when planning a conference or incentive program (IMEX 2007).

The corporate model is fast changing to one where sustainability is no longer fringe, but mainstream. 2007 promises to be an unprecedented year for the global meetings industry. In response to this trend the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is helping to prepare meeting professionals to meet the challenges of a sustainable approach and experience how greener meetings are creating better meetings.

On the heels of a successful annual conference in Portland, Oregon in February the GMIC is pleased to release The Future is Green: Charting a Sustainable Future for Meetings. The report is the outcome of a dynamic workshop that engaged a diversity of meeting and sustainability professionals in answering the question: If our vision as individuals is to make meetings more sustainable what can we and our partners do in 2007 to make this happen?

The report provides a snapshot of sustainable practice by the industry, highlighting best practices by leaders in destination management, accommodations, food and beverage, exhibits and meeting planning. The report also outlines the GMIC’s commitment to action on sustainability and issues an invitation for others to join in the process.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Australian Symposium on Events as Catalysts for Urban Change

11 - 12 JULY 2007



13 JULY 2007

Presented by:

The Centre for Hospitality and Tourism Research, Victoria University and
The Australian Centre for Event Management, University of Technology, Sydney,
in association with the CRC in Sustainable Tourism.

Conference Theme:
Re-eventing the City: Events as Catalysts for Change

Events have the potential to impact upon the cities in which they take place in a variety of ways. They can, for example, serve as: agents of environmental and cultural renewal; vehicles for economic growth and development; catalysts for tourism growth; vehicles for community education and development; and starting points for the process of re-imaging/re-imagining particular places. Events, particularly large scale events, also raise specific issues in urban contexts, such as those associated with opportunity and environmental costs and legacy management. It can also be observed that competition between cities to capture events of various types through the bidding process, or to attract visitors through the creation of new events, is growing dramatically.

Visit the conference web site.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

NewcastleGateshead Modelling Green CVB Practice

Reproduced from the NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau web site.

NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau is committed to helping organisers and delegates reduce the environmental impact of thier visit to NewcastleGateshead, but what are we doing ourselves?
  • We are investing in our website to give every delegate who books accommodation via our online accommodation booking system the opportunity to pay a small donation to ‘offset’ the carbon dioxide produced by their travel to NewcastleGateshead
  • Working with Nexus, our local transport operator, we have introduced NewcastleGateshead’s first Conference Travel Card to encourage delegates to use our excellent public transport system when they’re hereWe printed the latest copy of our newsletter, Creative Conferencing, on recycled paper
  • We are committed to reducing the number of printed materials we produce, publishing more of our marketing material online or in electronic versions
  • We have introduced a system in our office to recycle waste paper
  • We are donating to CarbonNeutral newcastle’s charity to ‘offset’ the carbon dioxide produced by our travel when we exhibit at national and international exhibitions
  • We are sourcing giveaways and promotional material made from sustainable materials

British Conference on Sustainable Destinations

How can destinations, venues and planners work together to promote a more sustainable future for the meeting and conference sector? This question is the theme of The British Association of Conference Destinations' Annual Conference June 6 - 8th, 2007, in Deganwy, North Wales.

Session topics include a look at the future of the convention destination, information on green venues, sustainable incentives, and corporate responsibility.

Further information can be found at the BACD web site.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Green Event Destination Criteria

Photo: Tourism Vancouver/Andy Mons.

I was daydreaming today. I caught myself looking out my window at beautiful Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains and imagining if I were seeking a green event destination what would I look for? What criteria would I use in my request for proposals to the local CVB?

Some thoughts on ideals that would be important to me:
  • A conference centre or primary meeting venue certified for both environmental construction and operating practices, such as LEED, BOMA, ISO, Power Smart or another recognized and credible indicator of environmentally responsible performance. At a minimum the centre would need to provide recycling, practice energy efficiency and water conservation and demonstrate environmentally preferable purchasing of cleaners, paper products, and catering supplies.
  • Host hotels with established environmental practices for energy efficiency and water conservation. A recognized certification such as Green Seal or Green Key would be ideal. They should be able to offer at a minimum:
    • a linen and towel re-use program.
    • property-wide recycling.
    • environmental purchasing of paper, cleaning and office products.
    • bulk in-room amenities or training to ensure individual amenities are not replaced until they are consumed and are donated to a local charity.
    • training to ensure lights and environmental controls are turned off when rooms are not in use.
  • Availability of sustainable transportation services. Important features would be:
    • Available public transit.
    • High occupancy shuttling/transit options between the airport and meeting venues.
    • Availability and use of alternative fuel or hybrid taxis or buses.
    • Car-polling programs, such as Flex-car.
  • Food and beverage services that provide local, organic and vegetarian options and use china and linen service.
  • CVB management practices that support sustainability. This could include:
    • A sustainability policy for the CVB.
    • Environmental purchasing policies and practices.
    • A strategy to address the emissions associated with staff travel, particularly air travel.
    • A progressive educational program for members that includes sustainability messaging.
    • A partnership with a carbon offset provider that could be offered to meeting planners.
  • Any municipal programs that support sustainability, such as recycling programs, green community plans, climate change action plans etc.

What would you look for?

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Quick Action Guide to Civic Action on Climate Change

What can cities do to take action on climate change?

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Government of Canada have produced a Quick Action Guide for Municipal Action on Climate Protection. The Guide outlines 20 steps communities can take to curb greenhouse gas emissions now, while also saving money, promoting energy efficiency, creating more jobs by investing in alternative energies and enhancing corporate image and community relations.

The guide presents a list of top ten corporate and community activities implemented by municipalities to address climate change.

Additional tools and resources are available through the Partners for Climate Protection website.

CIC Green Event Destination Best Practices

In 2003 the Convention Industry Council's Green Meetings Task Force was charged with creating minimum best practices for event organisers and suppliers to use as guidelines for implementing sustainability. As part of this process the Task Force proposed environmental practices for convention and visitor bureaus/destination management companies seeking to address sustainability.

These guidelines include the following minimum and strongly recommended practices.

Minimum Best Practices:
  • Establish detailed environmental policies and a strategy to implement them. Consistently communicate the policies in various ways to engage all employees, clients, members and visitors.
  • Survey the city's event venues, hotels, transportation providers, event suppliers and local government departments to discover the environmental programs/services they offer or have undertaken (i.e. energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, etc.)
  • Compile the information in a database of suppliers of 'green' programs.
  • Make staff aware of these suppliers' efforts.
  • Use the information to help event organisers make their supplier selections.
  • Use the information to recommend hotels and venues with environmental management practices, and/or those that minimise travel by being centrally located or on public transit routes.
  • Establish a purchasing policy to buy environmentally responsible products, including EnergyStar equipment, remanufactured toner cartridges, post-consumer recycled content paper, and recyclable plastics.

Strongly Recommended Best Practices:
  • Have maps of walking trails and local parks available and be ready to suggest off-site events and tours that involve event attendees in the area's natural environment with minimum impact.
These guidelines are now 4 years old. Do they still define best practices for destination managers and convention and visitor bureaus? Has the bar of practice been raised? What innovations have been made?

Rolling out the Green Carpet in Portland

Reproduced from the
Portland Oregon Visitors' Association web site. Photo: POVA

Portland is known for its green spaces and proximity to natural wonders like the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood. The city is also known as an incubator for progressive urban planning, environmentally conscious public policy, and the sustainable development movement.

In addition to offering you tools and resources for planning your "green" meeting in Portland, you'll quickly learn why Portland is a leader among "green" cities worldwide.

The Doubletree Hotel & Executive Meeting Center Portland-Lloyd Center has earned a Green Seal GS-33 Lodging Sustainability certification. The 476-room Doubletree — which hosted the national conference of the Green Meeting Industry Council in February 2007 — is the first lodging property in Oregon and the largest hotel west of the Mississippi to receive this "green hotel" designation, which includes a set of stringent criteria that encourages hotels to adopt environmental standards and practices in their everyday operations.

In addition the Oregon Convention Center has been built and is operated with sustainable practices in mind.

Visit POVA's Green Meetings site for further information on how the city is rolling out the green carpet to meeting planners.

Monday, 2 April 2007

World's Top Cities Announced

What makes a city a great place to live? Where does your city rank?

According to Mercer's annual survey, Canadian, European and Australian cities continue to dominate as the top cities in the world to live in.

Highlights of the survey.

Responsible Tourism in Destinations Conference

Following the Cape Town conference in 2002 the 2007 Responsible Tourism in Destinations conference was recently announced. The objectives of the conference are to:
  • Review progress towards Responsible Tourism around the world since 2002, including initiatives in destinations and the initiatives of hotels and tour operators.
  • Reflect on Kerala’s experience of working towards being a Responsible Tourism destination and to share experience internationally
  • Discuss how tourism can contribute to local economic development and poverty reduction
  • Consider how the environmental impact so the industry can best be managed.
  • Discuss the ways in which tourism can contribute to social development and mutual understanding and respectful encounters between tourists and local people.
How will the meeting and event sector be represented? How are marketers and managers of event destinations integrating the policies of the Cape Town Declaration?

The Cape Care Route, Cape Town South Africa
A Legacy of the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002.

Sustainability Stories - Lessons for Destinations

This entry was inspired by a presentation delivered by Joel Makower at the 2007 Greening the Hospitality Industry Conference in Portland Oregon.

For several years now organizations across a diversity of sectors have been embracing corporate responsibility. What does this approach mean for destination marketers and managers? What can be learned from the stories of corporations providing products and services to other sectors?

Corporate responsibility is a term interpreted differently by different individuals. For the purpose of this entry I would like to focus on the concept of corporate environmental responsibility. My definition of this concept is consideration by corporations of how their practices contribute to environmental health. Wrapped in this is an obligation to reduce impacts and possibly create environmental benefits as a product of corporate activities with a hope that future generations may benefit from a healthier planet, or at a minimum at least not be burdened with a lessened environment.

So to begin, a few sustainability stories…..

In 2005 General Electric unveiled “ecoimagination”, or - as GE calls it – their vision for a healthier world. The program was the result of extensive 18 month consultations with employees and leaders within GE, as well as customers and other stakeholder groups outside of the company. Participants were engaged in ‘daydreaming sessions’ of what kind of a life they desired in 2015 and what products they would need from GE to secure this quality of life. From this process came a four-part strategy to embrace corporate responsibility not only as a way of reducing environmental impacts but creating the business case for cleaner energy technologies. GE’s strategy includes doubled investment in research and development of clean technologies, increased revenues from eco-imagination products, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and public reporting of progress in these areas. It is a very ambitious program.

A second example: Coca-Cola. By 2010 Coca-Cola hopes to have reduced 700,000 tons of GHG emissions – the equivalent of 150,000 cars being removed from the road - by attending to a single aspect of their business. Vending machines produce 3 times the estimated emissions from manufacturing of Coke products and 5 times more than the emissions from fleet transport. To attempt to cut GHG emissions and energy consumption associated with refrigeration Coca-Cola is partnering with the USEPA, Greenpeace and UNEP to develop and test proto-type coolers in Spain, Japan, Greece, Australia, Italy and Scandinavia.

And a third example. Patagonia. The brand is recognized worldwide as a quality outdoor clothier with a strong commitment to corporate responsibility. In an innovative attempt to show how the tropical rainforest was viable as an economic resource without being cut down Patagonia introduced a t-shirt several years ago that made use of buttons made from the wood of the Tagua nut. Now the tagua nut is the product of many years of evolution, with properties that allow it to expand and propagate new trees in a high moisture tropical environment. Unfortunately for Patagonia, this ancient evolutionary process led to the return of thousands of shirts whose buttons, left to soak in our washing machines, would crack when subjected to the heat of the drier.

What lessons can be learned from these stories by destination professionals?

Green for the sake of the earth is noble, but a losing business proposition.
Investments in sustainability projects need to not only reduce impacts or create environmental benefits, they need to make business sense in terms of reducing costs, improving efficiencies, enhancing image, reducing risk and achieving other strategic goals.

The second lesson is that green is the new green – it is a growth business opportunity. GE is aiming to increase revenues to at least $20 billion in 2010 through Ecoimagination products. Patagonia has proven it has staying power as a company whose products are founded on creating the least harm to the environment.

A third lesson: climate is changing. Not only is it changing, but the public and shareholders are concerned about what is being done to address the impacts from climate change by business. Businesses as a result are working to minimize their risk to climate change, and taking responsibility for reducing emissions and communicating success in this area.

Measurement and reporting is key. Corporate responsibility reporting is a critical part of sustainability strategy. GE, Coke and Patagonia all participate in global reporting initiatives which are key to program evaluation and improvement, and necessary in order to be transparent and avoid environmental criticism.

Partnerships are critical.
Corporate responsibility is enhanced where companies can join with established environmental or sustainability initiatives. In the past there has been fear on the part of companies to share their environmental programs for risk of criticism for insufficiency of effort. Partnerships with environmental groups and global reporting initiatives helps to show long term commitments to learning and improved sustainability that emphasise the journey – rather than the destination.

Risk is unavoidable. It is important for green professionals to be open to the prospect of failure in our work. Sometimes ideas pay off, sometimes they don’t. In the case of Patagonia their positioning as a clean, green, organic clothing supplier with extensive policies for ethical and green purchasing has earned them a loyal, long-term customer base. However, sometimes ideas that seem good – whether it be nut buttons or switching to fully online delegate registration - just don’t work out in certain contexts. The process of sustainability is a learning processes. It involves negotiation, risk-taking and experimentation.

All of these lessons are transferable to our work as destination professionals, and speak to the benefits of sustainable practices in our profession.