Opportunities for Green Meetings Increase

In the inaugural "State of the 2009 Sustainable Meeting Industry" report, Meeting Strategies Worldwide compiles data from numerous other sources and studies, giving a broad view of sustainability trends in the world of events.

Many meeting planners are working on green meetings or expect to plan such meetings in the future, and that number is on the rise.

Fifty-one percent of independent planners (16 percent more than in a previous survey), 46.8 percent of corporate planners (10.5 percent more than a previous survey) and 44.4 percent of association and government planners say they are planning or will plan greener meetings.

A survey of corporate travel managers found that 30 percent include green issues in travel policies and 30 percent will also use hotels that have green amenities and practices in place. But meeting managers are also being forced to cut down on the amount of meetings they go to and how far they can travel, and planners are facing heightened attention to prove the value of their events.

Many online technologies allow planners to provide all event information on websites (cutting out wasted or unnecessary print outs), set up event-related discussions on social networks, open up a chatroom for discussion during events and provide video or audio from the event for non-attendees to view.

"It is true the economic downturn is impacting us all, causing some of our business to contract. This is affecting budgets, but more importantly, it is changing how we meet," the report states.

While consumer interest is seen as the main driver for greener meetings, the report also notes that companies are adopting some green measure because they cut costs, and changes to meetings are also being pushed by a the growing number of green certification programs, environmentally friendly meeting tools and fair labor commitments.

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