KONCEPT EVENTS sent COURTNEY LOHMANN, CMP, DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT (and recent graduate of the GMIC Certified Sustainable Events Professional program), to the powerful 2015 GMIC SUSTAINABLE MEETINGS CONFERENCE in Atlanta, GA….and Lohmann returned with loads of event-ready information!
To make sure you didn’t miss out on any of the valuable education learned at GMIC 2015, our resident expert picked her top 3 takeaways for event professionals and shares them with you now:
STOP PRE-SETTING SESSION TABLES
Yes, you read that correctly – and yes – it does sound harsh! However, when you think about all the ice water poured into glassware that goes untouched, the dozens of notepads and pens left over and discarded, and the endless amount of paper unread and tossed; it adds up to a lot of wasted materials and money.
Instead, have a communal table set-up with plenty of beverages, glassware, pens, notebooks, mints and other needed items; and let guests help themselves. To take this a step further, post online (or via your conference app) all the slides and literature that might otherwise have been printed on paper. Paper-free is where much of the training at conferences and meetings is headed, and your guests will be grateful to bring just their iPad or smart phone to the session!
Bonus tip: Swap out wasteful plastic or paper stir sticks for spaghetti. I tried it at GMIC and was hooked! And don’t be shy about it. Add a themed sign next to the stir sticks so your guests can share with their friends how they take their coffee black – and GREEN!
Eco Tip: Stir It Up with a Noodle!
LEAN ON HOTELS AS SUSTAINABILITY PARTNERS
This year’s GMIC conference was hosted at THE WESTIN PEACHTREE PLAZA in beautiful downtown Atlanta; where the hotel’s leadership has made serious efforts to create green practices in every single department. Beyond recycling all run-off rainwater, this property is making homemade steak sauce and ketchup (making a large quantity in-house reduces wasteful packaging and the carbon footprint from shipping when purchasing it from an outside vendor). Their housekeeping department has outfitted each cleaning team with iPads and software to real-time track room turnovers, enabling faster check-ins.
For a meeting planner, the ability to tell guests that they are staying in a hotel where they can check-in earlier and have access to a kitchen that sources fresh and local food, does matter. And market research shows that it matters to guests of all ages. Not to mention, it makes your budget and corporate perception look good when you plan with a sustainable property.
Bonus tip: Check out hotels that partner with the “GLOBAL SOAP PROJECT,” a non-profit who collects and donates gently used hotel bar soap to regions around the globe where hygiene-related illnesses are cited as the leading cause of death.
Global Soap Project at GMIC 2015.
SUSTAINABILITY IS MEASURABLE
If someone on your team thinks that taking the extra steps of having sustainable practices at your event is of no fiscal use, prove them wrong! Ask your hotel partners, vendors, and destination management experts for measurable and concrete data pre, during, and post event. For instance, transportation companies with emission lowering technology and no-idling policies are able to calculate the fuel saved using their vehicles and practices. You can also print your conference program on recycled paper. And of course, working with your hotel to calculate your group’s own amount of compost created is a great fact to include in a post-con follow-up thank you email.
Bonus tip: Use the TERRAPASS carbon calculator to generate your event’s carbon footprint while you are in the planning process. Then, once you’ve creatively trimmed your footprint using sustainable event practices, share this data with your guests at the actual event!
Does this seem overwhelming? Don’t worry, that’s where KE comes in! We’ll do the leg work for you and your unique program. Let KE be your “partner in green!”
Creative Inspiration: KRISTEN ZENNER, PROGRAM COORDINATOR