Face it, times are tough all over. Budgets are getting cut, teams are getting trimmed and the one-year outlook is tight – regardless of what industry you might be a part of.
For many meeting professionals, you might be in pull-back mode, especially when it comes to cutting-edge (and expensive-sounding) ideas like "green" meetings. Many of us envision spending more on recycled paper, biodegradable corn starch cups, recycling bins, fair trade-certified coffee and carbon offsets. Whew! Sounds like a top-of-the-market strategy!
Believe it or not, greening up a meeting doesn’t have to cost much money. In my experience, the process might help you save money by uncovering some "big spenders" that otherwise might be hiding from you. When you find a way to reduce your environmental footprint and save money, you are playing on the new cutting edge of the business world.
In my new book, Saving the World at Work, I talked about a carbon emission-reduction program at InterfaceFLOR that helped the company cut its carbon footprint by 97 percent and saved US$300 million at the same time. The key was to innovate in the area of waste elimination. Ray Anderson, founder of InterfaceFLOR and leader of the company’s sustainability initiative, defines waste as "any investment that doesn’t create customer value." When he went after those investments (materials, time, money, energy) he found the win/win formula for profit and loss as well as planet.
So this fall, and for that matter next winter, let’s dig into the meeting industry and find some big spenders to cut as we climb up what Anderson likes to call "Mount Sustainability."
Shrinking the Footprint of Conference Info-materials Have you stopped to weigh, price and eco-analyze all the stuff that a conference attendee receives? There are printouts, notebooks, pens, pencils, promotional items and various media inside a canvas or nylon bag. I call the overstuffed conference bag "the Hummer" of the meetings world because much of it could be replaced by lighter (and less expensive) materials. The purpose of conference materials is information dissemination, right? Most items are handouts, presentations, solicitations, bulletins—all of which can be digitized.
I spoke at an event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for a telecom company where all of their conference materials were loaded onto a USB thumb drive that was branded with the name of an event sponsor. Counting printing, paper, time spent collating and the bag, the savings came out to about US$50 per attendee or US$35,000 for a 700-person meeting.
Shrinking the Shipping Footprint Have you analyzed how much of the shipping related to your events is sent via air, ground or sea? There’s a massive difference in price, both to your budget as well as the planet. Many organizations come down with overnight shipping syndrome, sending everything out via next-day delivery services. Why? Usually it’s a function of poor planning and false urgency. Many times, the overnight package waits for days for anyone to pay attention to it—what a waste!
Create a new rule: ground for domestic, sea for international. This is what personal care products company Aveda does, and it saves money and planet. Did you know that air shipping emits 20 times more carbon than sea? Did you know that it can cost up to 1,000 percent more to send an international package overnight versus two weeks by sea? Consider domestic shipping, where air shipping has six times more environmental impact than ground and can cost up to 300 percent more. Careful, this strategy requires great calendar management and a constant dialogue with your event team, vendor ecosystem and internal stakeholders.
Banning Disposables Other eco culprits that hit your bottom line are bottled beverages, disposal cups and cutlery. Pharmaceutical firm Takeda replaced bottled water with filtered tap water stations at its 2006 event. They handed out refillable water bottles and had the hotel place chilled water filtration centers around the facility. In the end, meeting planners saved US$25,000 over a week, and several thousand meeting attendees were just as hydrated. They were also thrilled to find out, on the last day of the event, that their sacrifice enabled the firm to make a sizeable donation to a local children’s ranch.
Reducing Event Miles At Wal-Mart, there’s a sustainability program that saves the world and a few million bucks at the same time. They call it "food miles reduction." Buyers have started to calculate how far food, typically a heavy item, travels on its way from the farm to the fork. They’ve placed a food miles calculation on every supplier’s product line and counted that as part of their selection criteria along with price, quality and convenience. In the end, this has helped the company reduce almost 15 percent of fuel emissions related to stocking stores—which has the environmental impact of taking several hundred thousand cars off the road for a year. Inject event miles into your site selection criteria.
For your attendees, conduct an estimate on the number of miles they would travel from origin to event. If, for example, half of your attendees come from a single place like headquarters, the distance from it to event is part of the puzzle. Same goes with field offices and vendors. It’s a difficult process to initially set up, but soon you’ll get an idea as to whether an incentive event in Orlando, Fla., versus San Francisco makes more eco-sense. This is also a money saver, because meetings that are closer to more attendees will result in significant savings in airline travel, days out of the office and per diem.
Get the idea here? There’s more you can look into; it’s up to your imagination and determination. The beauty of this innovation area is that you get to teach others at your organization how to be savers instead of spenders, leading to other innovations that are good for the Earth as well as the bottom line.
I’m really interested to hear about what you decide to do with my advice, how well it works for you and what you’ve come up with that I’ve never thought about. Send your big-saver ideas to me at [email protected]. I’m all eyes.
TIM SANDERS is the author of Saving the World at Work: What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference (Doubleday, September 2008). Check out his blog at www.timsanders.com.
Wenn Sie ein Event planen in Spanien oder Marokko, nehmen Sie Kontakt mit uns oder direkt mit den 750
Qualitätsdienstleistern in unserem Portal auf für gratis Angebote, ohne Verpflichtung und ohne Provision.
Mit rund einer Million Seitenabrufen und 1,000 Angebotsanfragen im Monat ist Event Planner Spain derzeit das meist besuchte
Portal für Veranstaltungsorganisation in Spanien, in acht Sprachen verfügbar, mit Besuchern aus mehr als 160 Ländern.
Wenn Sie Interesse an Werbung auf unserem Portal haben, kontaktieren sie uns für ein interessantes Angebot.