Thursday, 11 September 2008

A Role for Government

To a large extent sustainable meetings are the direct responsibility of local hospitality communities. Government is a partner, however, and can provide programs that encourage the development of greener meeting destinations. This is particularly the case for cities that have government managed convention facilities.

Some tools and examples of best practices I've recently come across:

Purchasing policies: Executive Order 08 -02 requires that all city departments in San Francisco - including the Moscone Convention Center - procure products that enhance recycling and resource conservation. This includes mandating the purchase of 100% post consumer recycled content paper and green products that have been approved by the Mayor's Office.

Product bans: From plastic bags to bottle water and polystyrene, municipalities are experimenting with product bans that reduce environmental impacts. Examples include London, Ontario's recent bottled water ban in city facilities - including the convention centre. A trailblazer of a green city, Portland, Oregon banned polystyrene 18 years ago!

Transit initiatives: Yet another innovative example of sustainable living - Portland's Fareless Square. Fareless Square is a transit initiative that includes the downtown and convention neighbourhoods of the city, where passengers can ride the MAX train line for free!

Green building initiatives: Last year the City of Chicago announced a Green Roof Grant Program, designed to help residents and businesses save energy and maintenance costs by creating green rooftops.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Green SFO



What the heck is up in the first city in the USA to ban plastic shopping bags and reach for a zero waste target by 2020?

To find out check out new Green SF site. The San Francisco CVB has packed the site with information on how to green your trip, your meeting and your business, only in San Francisco.

Photo: San Francisco CVB

Monday, 1 September 2008

It's Official: Green Moves from Fringe to Supertrend

Destination Marketing Association International has officially identified sustainability as one of the most important business opportunities facing destination marketing professionals into the future. The organization has identified green issues as one of eight super trends that can be expected to present opportunities and challenges for destination professionals in the coming years. Other key trends include things such as regulation, technology, the battle for relevance and attention.

Will this mean that we start to see more destination cities embracing green? Probably. I think many CVB's and DMO's will be taking inventory of their sustainability assets to better understand what their communities can offer. This will be packaged and presented in more easily accessible ways to their markets.

Will it lead to new initiatives to support more sustainable experiences that reach beyond recycling? Perhaps. Many destinations will likely discover they have some work to do to understand and create the kind of sustainable infrastructure planners and travelers want. To do this will require some destination professionals to step out of their traditional marketing roles, to become more involved destination management.

Will this help us get greener services? Yes, and no. We will be able to get more information about sustainable destination features. But will we know for sure how green these services are? My take on this is that the number of destinations who hang out their green shingle results in an equal increase in traveler confusion about who is the greenest. Green-washing will emerge as a key challenge, underlining the need for standards.

Will planners be knocking down the doors of cities embracing sustainability? In all honestly, not in droves. For planners I think key considerations will remain things like accessibility, cost, availability and safety. That said where destinations are competitive on these factors sustainable practices will tip the scales in favor of those cities that can claim them. Furthermore, those cities that cannot claim them will be at risk of losing business to those who can.

Press release.

Destination Marketing Association International.

Virgina Beach CVB Green Certified

Kudos to the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitor's Bureau for being named the Commonwealth's first "Virginia Green Destination". I believe the CVB is only the second in the country to be certified independently for its sustainable practices.

The destination has been credited for efforts that include an expanded beach recycling program, the introduction of new hybrid-electric shuttles and a new green event certification program.

To see the innovative programs being created check out Virginia Beach Green. The web site is a good model to look at for examples of how to communicate green services to leisure travelers and the meetings market.

Photo: Virginia Beach CVB.

Kyoto Gets Radical Green

In doing some site selection research recently I came across a pretty revolutionary green hotel in Kyoto!

Get this: Not only do they offer a green guest room program, but if you take part they credit you 500 yen per night (about $5 US)! A great way to help discount your internet access in my opinion, or pay for an afternoon tea (organic of course!). I'm not sure if they do it for meetings, but a pretty radical and innovative idea!

The property is the Kyoto Takaragaike Prince Hotel.

Thanks to James at the Kyoto CVB for this tidbit :)