This can work, I know it can. This whole plan of bringing sustainable practices to the meetings industry. The plan, though, it needs our help and participation. A way to start might be in taking a few simple steps to work together for (yay!) collective benefit.
Buyers and planners need do more than just ask for responsible practices. Buyers must actually purchase the services and products from the businesses that demonstrate strong CSR commitments. Mind, asking is important. It indicates to the supplier that there is market demand for ‘green’ practices. But if the contract is offered to businesses with no demonstrated committment to sustainable practices, what message is being sent to the supplier market?
Elevate CSR in the decision making process. Clearly, traditional decision drivers (price, service, location.. politics, I suppose) will always be important factors in purchasing decisions. That said,though, planners, it’s time to act for sustainability. Meeting planners are on record as saying that they are ready to make such a commitment. As recently as December 2008, the AMC Institute reported that one third of all planners are willing to “increase their budgets in order to ensure a green meeting”. Really? Then (see First Step, above) during the tender process, don’t just ask if a supplier has a comprehensive plan, contract with the ones that do. The sustainable suppliers know what I’m talking about. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere..
Now you guys, the suppliers.. Suppliers must integrate sustainable practices and right away. Suppliers, show us the meaning of haste! Leaders must document a CSR commitment and weave it fully into their business plans. Once done, they must communicate their efforts in a responsible, effective way (more on that next post). Think you’re doing a good job with the communicating? A report just released by Good Business, an environmental consultancy, reveals that 76% of those polled ‘felt they did not have enough information about social and environmental impacts of their travels to allow them to make an informed choice’. Sustainable suppliers, help fill this information gap! Measure your environmental impacts, reduce them and provide clients resources to make better decisions. Scandic hotels has fantastic site that shows how guests reduce environmental impacts just by staying at their hotels.
Dr. Karl Henrik Robert, founder of The Natural Step and an official hero of mine, teaches us that, when it comes to sustainability, the job is so big it requires us all to work together. The meetings industry will be stronger for it. Let’s start with taking steps now.