Friday, 24 October 2008

Green Venues at Work: SFO's Hotel Triton

Kimpton Hotels has become know for it's Earth Care Program. Check out the efforts of San Francisco's Hotel Triton in this video from the Sundance Channel.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see

I'm often asked: What city is greenest? Which venues are most sustainable? What hotel properties are strongest in CSR?

I've tried to give perspectives on these questions in different posts on this blog, namely here, here and here, as well as the side bar.

When I answer this question I'm careful to refer to what I know in my own experience. Where I don't have this direct experience I rely on the eyes of people and organisations I trust: certifiers and verifiers such as ISO 14001, Green Seal, LEED and government agencies.

I'm also careful to try and avoid making blanket statements or observations about brands, particularly hotel chains. I recently heard someone say "I'd never hold a green meeting at x hotel company's properties. They're not green." I admit I've caught myself saying the same. More than once. I have heard numerous sales representatives tout the green merits of their chain; and I've left numerous site visits frustrated by individual properties who do not meet the image and promise of corporate policies put forward by sales persons or head office. My lessons to deal with these situations?
  1. Inform myself of the corporate policies of the CVB's, destinations and hotel chains I'm working with.
  2. Mentally prepare to be both surprised....and disappointed. :)
  3. Ask properties how they are working to achieve these policies on the front lines and talk about my expectations during negotiations.
  4. Observe practice on-site. Trust my own eyes, or those of peers who have experienced these cities, venues and hotels.
  5. Contract for specific practices and measurement and be willing to be flexible and honour intention where everything I want may not be in place.
  6. Track performance and give feedback.
  7. Honour leaders who are taking steps forward in sustainability.

Know leading meeting venues, cities or hotels other planners could benefit from in their destination selection processes? Please comment!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Modern Day Slavery?

Dubai: 1990 - 2003

"Down at the base of the pyramid are the labourers, waiters, hotel employees and unskilled workers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines and beyond. They move deferentially around the huge malls, cafes, bars and restaurants, bowing down and calling people sir and madam. In the middle of the day, during the hottest hours, you can see them sleeping in public gardens under trees, or on the marble floors of the Dubai Mosque, on benches or pieces of cardboard on side streets. These are the victims of the racism that is not only flourishing in the UAE but is increasingly being exported to the rest of the Middle East. Sometimes it reminds you of the American south in the 1930s."

For the most part I've kept to issues of environmental concern for destinations. In his article on migrant labour Ghaith Abdul-Ahad provides an eye-opening narrative of life for those workers that should be read by all planning meetings in the Middle East.

We Need Slaves to Build Monuments

Update: Another related editorial on Dubai in the Independent, April 2009:
The Dark Side of Dubai

Update: Vanity Fair March 2011
Dubai Running on Empty

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Finally! Find a City to MeetGreen!

Selecting host cities on the basis of environmental practices just got a whole lot easier thanks to Best Places to MeetGreen.

Looking for a green meeting city? Thanks to Meeting Strategies Worldwide you can now find one that has been verified by meeting planners using a scorecard that inventories city event infrastructure, and CVB, meeting venue and hotel practices.

Looking to meet close? The Best Places to MeetGreen Calculator shows you how. Simply plug in where your attendees are coming from and choose 5 cities you're considering for your meeting. With the click of a button determine which has the smallest air travel footprint.