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!

1 comment:

Jessie Upp, M.S., R.C. said...

I absolutely appreciate your blog, Shawna.

Please find as an online resource for choosing green venues for the Event Industry, among additional green suppliers.

We would welcome your green expertise on this site. Please contact me if this interests you.

Jessie Upp, Event Producer