Thursday, 13 December 2007

Gifts: What do they say about your Green Destination?

Maybe it is the Christmas consumerism blues or the feeling that my office is bursting at the seams with clutter, but I seem to be obsessed with 'stuff' of late.

A recent visit to a luxury property for a site inspection got me thinking about the challenge of the 'amenity'. It is always a delicate dance to be gracious in accepting - or declining - the gifts that are left by properties and destinations while on a site visit, while being mindful of the fact much of the 'stuff' I get is unneeded, and in some cases, offensive to my values.

In the meeting industry it has become an expectation that planners should be pampered, wooed and left with nice things that give a positive impression of a property and destination. Now don't get me wrong: I am not about to suggest doing away with the practice. After a long, delayed flight there is nothing that I would like more than some chocolate and a soak with a nice bath bomb that a hotel has been kind enough to gift to me. But what I would like to suggest is that amenity providers pay close attention to how their gifts reflect their properties, destinations and values and also be aware of the needs and values of the recipient.

At a recent stay in Portland the CVB was kind enough to leave me an amenity in my room. They had selected a book about Portland, a artistically designed re-usable cotton bag, some local chocolate and a hat made out of recycled pop bottles. I love my hat by the way. I wear it all the time. What impressed me was that the CVB was able to leave an impression, express their thanks I was there, and do it in a way that really fit with my individual values; green values. I felt they knew me - it made it personal.

I will contrast this with my arrival at the not to be named luxury property referred to above. When I arrived I found Belgian truffles, Fiji water, cut exotic fruit and a stream of fresh cut orchids across my bed. The display was beautiful, but very unmindful of my purpose in being on site: to conduct a site inspection for a green meeting. The gift was not local, sustainable or re-usable.

My intent is not to appear ungrateful for a gift, or suggest that amenities to planners should be done away with. My purpose is to encourage properties and destinations to consider how the gifts and amenities you provide positively represent and support your community and consider the needs and values of the recipient.

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