• Paige Nathan

Important Tips for Hosting a Green Meeting or Event

You don't need to look far these days to see significant environmental changes and the impact it’s having on our communities. Summers are getting hotter, winters are milder, snow levels have lowered, and large parts of the country are experiencing profound droughts. As a result, we're long past the days of recycling paper and plastics as ways of doing good for the environment. From small companies to large corporations, many are focused on the changes – big or small – they can make to reduce their carbon footprint.


And your meeting attendees are looking for it too! A recent study of conference-goers found that 85% of respondents prefer or strongly prefer attending conferences focused on sustainable practices. Not surprisingly, respondents in favor of attending eco-friendly meetings skewed younger. So as the older generations retire and the next generation becomes the majority, green

events will only become more critical.


So what are some key changes you can make to produce a more sustainable event? Keep reading.


Location

Being thoughtful about your location can do more than just save you money. It can also be environmentally friendly. Locations that are easy to get to from airports and major transportation hubs reduce your guests' travel and, as a result, produce less pollution.


There are also many hotels and hotel chains around the world that are focused on doing good for the environment. From small boutique properties to large global chains, being green is no longer a trendy buzzword but a major initiative many hoteliers support in every aspect of their daily operations.


This includes:

  • Removing plastic bottles throughout the hotel, including tiny shampoo containers in guest bathrooms

  • Laundering sheets and linens on an as-requested basis

  • Installing guestroom lights that turn off when you exit the room

  • Sourcing food menu items locally  


Catering

Every successful meeting includes great food and beverage options. And if you want your meeting to be eco-friendly, that includes your menus, too. Sustainable menus are especially important if your attendees are younger (age 34 or less) and live in pretty much any part of the country outside the southeast (that’s the region with the lowest percent of respondents who felt locally sourced menus was important).


Top ways you can make your catering more sustainable is:

  • Using compostable or reusable dish items.

  • Offer locally sourced menus as compared to processed foods


Choose event locations where the chef uses items sourced from the region. And if your location is already selected and locally sourced food isn't at the top of their menu, then you can still act locally by hiring food trucks for one or two catered events. In addition to being wildly popular and serving made-to-order food for your guests, many trucks are also environmentally friendly and source their menu items from their local community.



Meeting Materials

Remember back in the day when you walked up to the meeting check-in table and were handed a stack of papers? Maybe even a conference binder. And you scribbled notes across the pages over the next few days, rarely referencing them again when you got back into your office? Yep. We do, too. What a waste! Not only a waste of lots of paper but also a waste of time printing, preparing, send sending these behemoths of manufactured wood pulp.


When checking your guests in, we love using QR codes. With a simple scan, guests can enter their contact information and eliminate the need for sign-in sheets. And the automated process can enter them straight into your CRM system. Check out sites like Flowcode or QR Generator to learn more.


As for those bulky conference materials, there's a QR code for that, too. Simply upload all materials to a Google drive and have your attendees scan the QR code to access all documents and presentations. No PowerPoint decks must be carried back to the office, and no one needs to worry about misplacing items.


Being eco-friendly isn't limited to just during the meeting. You want to also have plans in place for when your meeting ends. There’s always lots of waste post-conference – papers, food, even unused swag. Unfortunately, leftover food at hotels can't be donated, so order wisely. Even better, using a caterer such as food trucks who only cook and serve what's ordered produce no leftovers. Ensure you have a recycle bin for attendees to dispose of unwanted papers. And leftover swag like t-shirts and tote bags can be donated to a local shelter.

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