6 Steps to Sustainability and Greener Meetings

April 19, 2023

Greener meetings – it sounds like a buzzword we’re all hearing, but in reality, it’s something that the business events industry is truly embracing. This Earth Day, it’s worth reminding destinations of the steps they should be taking towards enabling greener meetings.

For destinations that are already taking these steps, it’s also time to make sure you’re being clear and upfront with meeting planners. They are keen to support CVBs who are leading the way and making the changes needed to respect and restore the planet. It’s no time to be shy about the good work your CVB is doing!

1. Net Zero Convention Centers
One of the biggest shifts in recent years has been the adaptation of convention centers to become carbon neutral. Many destinations are already committed to it, but destinations who haven’t begun to think about such changes are already behind. Meeting planners want to know that, if nothing else, your venue is acting as a model backdrop for greener meetings.

How and what net zero looks like varies, from convention centers installing windmills and solar panels to growing urban gardens – getting creative is part of the fun. No matter how you do it, though, having anything but a LEED-certified and net zero convention center won’t be an option in the near future for destinations who want to remain relevant in the MICE industry.

2. Work with Local Providers
Being greener means keeping things local as much as possible. Embrace your local partners and be sure they are part of your business events. Look for ways to bring local farms into the mix and work with under-represented businesses in your local community. This will allow you to reduce the distance that businesses need to travel to get to your convention center.

Looking in your own backyard and promoting local businesses not only reduces the overall carbon footprint of the meetings industry in your destination, but it actively uplifts and enriches your local communities.

3. Eliminate Waste
Useless swag. Plastic cutlery. Excess food. We’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating. Destinations need to cut the waste during events and work with planners to do the same. If somebody doesn’t already have a reusable water bottle by 2023, then getting one at a big event isn’t going to be the catalyst that makes them eco-minded.

Encouraging QR codes instead of paper documents, installing water fountains instead of giving out water bottles, and ensuring that extra food can be donated or picked up afterwards is essential to making small but impactful gestures towards a greener meetings industry. Destinations need to work with meeting planners to establish guidelines and recommendations to ensure greener meetings.

4. Publish Your Pledge Proudly
It’s almost become commonplace for destination organizations and CVBs to adhere to some sort of pledge whereby their practices will be more sustainable in the future. That’s all well and good if it’s an earnest effort, but making it clear to meeting planners is key.

Having simple and straightforward messaging about what your destination is doing helps meeting planners who are looking to advance greener meetings. Don’t make them dig for it, because they won’t. Make it as much a part of your marketing efforts as describing the size and capacity of your convention center. For planners, all of these details carry nearly equal weight at this point.

5. Provide Resources to Planners
Education programs and task forces like this one are ways to bridge the gap between what a destination wants to accomplish and what it can accomplish. Educating attendees and planners upfront about how they, too, can make more environmental choices ahead of an event – like opting for train travel instead of air travel if applicable – is vital to ensuring everyone is on board.

Your pledge may be out there for everyone to see, but meeting planners need to know how they can contribute to your sustainability goals, even before they arrive at your destination.

6. Educate Yourself
In the same breath, destinations don’t know everything about greener meetings. Organizations like MeetGreen are powerful allies to assess your own practice. They also provide speakers for events to help underscore the work that needs to be done to support sustainability efforts for business events. They guide destinations who want to set greener goals and obtain relevant certifications that help make it clear to planners that your events industry is doing all it can.

Learn more about what meeting planners want through the fourth edition of DCI’s  “A View from Meeting Planners: Winning Strategies in Destination Marketing,” Gain insights into meeting planners’ site selection journey as we continue to rebuild the business events industry.

Looking to promote greener meetings in your destination? DCI has more than 60 years of experience working with destinations to spread their messages. Contact Pamela Laite at [email protected] to learn more about how our business events division can help further your efforts.

Written by

Pamela Laite

Director, Business Events