I recently attended a conference in Wales entitled ‘The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Green’ which looked at the opportunities and challenges that are facing the future of conferencing in various venues.
There were a number of industry speakers who covered topics such as the impact and effects of business tourism on the environment, putting sustainable policies into action in destinations and venues, sustainable incentives, corporate social responsibility and increasingly stringent legislation.
The main theme that came through was that environmental impacts are now becoming a key factor for conference organisers when considering a destination and venue. We were given examples of how venues and destinations are adapting to this obligation by providing organisers with their environmental policies. Examples mentioned were Apex Hotels and the Gleneagles Hotel, whose environmental policy was apparently a consideration in winning the G8 Summit in 2005. One of the key speakers, Fiona Pelham from ‘Organise This’ explained that 68% of conference organisers now take environmental policies into consideration when planning conferences. Our personal experience has been mainly service and price, though times are changing.
With sustainable tourism becoming such an important consideration it is expected that more and more conference organisers and agencies will start to ask venues for their own green policies (Apparently The Scottish Executive will now only use environmentally accredited accommodation).
There are a number of agencies available that will help businesses look at their environmental impact. The Carbon Trust offer free loans for improving energy efficiency and can provide business surveys, design advice and free publications. One of the many benefits mentioned was that a 20% cut in energy expenditure can lead to the equivalent of a 10% increase in sales.