Link Cost Control With Green Meetings Objectives

Are green meetings still a priority for your company? For many meeting managers, the recession may have put the goal of reducing carbon emissions on hold for a while, but I know many others that continue to aim for both optimum cost-control and green meetings. The challenge has not been abandoned.

But, like with so many other areas of strategic meetings management, advancing the cause of green meetings is a lot easier with executive support and buy-in from more of your organization. Last month, in fact, I read a post on blog that quoted an ACTE/KDS study of more than 300 business travelers and procurement and travel managers -- finding two separate worlds exist around corporate social responsibility (CSR) when it comes to senior executives and the rank-and-file.

In the survey, 45% said top managers made bad travel choices in terms of CSR (e.g. flying too much rather than using virtual meetings technology, using the corporate jet versus commercial airlines). Yet, in the same survey, an equal number said they're required to report to senior management on the state of their companies' business travel carbon emissions. Additionally, more than half said they wanted more guidance on their employers' CSR and travel policies.

So part of the challenge of advancing green meetings comes down to:

a) making sure your senior executives understand how your green meetings objectives align with the company’s strategy around CSR and green initiatives,

b) getting buy-in (and compliance!) from those executives and an endorsement that the rest of your organization will notice and follow,

c) doing a more thorough job of communicating corporate CSR policy to the rest of your organization -- meetings travelers, planners and preferred suppliers alike.

I also think it's wise to link the twin goals of cost-control and CSR. After all, for both planners and meetings managers, part of going green is making more sensible -- often cost-effective -- choices. On the planning side, linking goals could include everything from choosing hotels that are more easily reached by the majority of attendees to staging virtual meetings where it makes sense. And on the management side of things, both cost-control and green initiatives are attainable by using automated strategic meetings management solutions that reduce labor (and save trees) in budgeting, planning, attendee management, data analysis and other processes.

The greening of meetings is still achievable, but it often means working more closely with your suppliers and communicating your program goals and strategies around CSR and green suppliers, keeping senior management actively involved, stepping up communications and making sure everyone from executives to attendees are aligned with your policies.

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management