Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Greening of Hospitality Industry
CGA Industry Leaders Speak Out On Satisfying Client Green Requirements
Moving Green Expectations to the Forefront

Environmentally conscious meeting professionals are poised for the next big step in green meetings and hospitality, and corporate partner members of the Convene Green Alliance (CGA) are leading the way. “The first wave was all about making green opportunities available,” says Tim Newman, CEO, of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. “I believe the next wave will be about accountability as a guidepost for whether a destination is truly committed to green efforts.”

Many hotels and convention centers are proving their commitment to going green by providing real results of their green changes. “Meeting professionals are looking for demonstrable results like the number of pounds of materials recycled, amount of carbon offset, and so forth,” Newman says. “Some of the newer requests center around a carbon footprint calculator,” adds Bruno Lunghi, Vice President, Event Management for Marriott. “More companies are looking to measure their ‘complete’ carbon footprint, including transportation, energy use in a meeting room/hotel room, and activities.”

Another priority for meeting planners is ensuring that partners and suppliers to facilities are also committed to environmental sustainability. The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), for example, has six partners for catering, technology, valet services, and more that all support the green efforts of OCCC, says Yulita Osuba, senior director of Sales and Marketing, Event Management, and Exhibitor Services. The effort to create a green meeting goes miles ahead of using recycled products and equipment — newer facilities are also including green features during construction.

One shining example of this is the new 1,000-room Omni Dallas Hotel, which is scheduled to open in early 2012 and expected to be a Silver LEED-certified hotel. The property will feature an advanced energy management system, efficient laundry operations, a restaurant built using reclaimed wood, and landscaping that requires little water, said Omni Vice President of Corporate Communications, Caryn Kboudi. Hotels and conventions don’t stop at green initiatives. Osuba, with the OCCC, says that social responsibility programs are also in demand from today’s meeting planners.

“We work with planners by coordinating team building exercises and volunteer projects throughout our community,” Osuba says. The OCCC contributes to social responsibility programs by donating leftover products to charitable organizations in the community. “We are offering options and services to attendees to help give back to the communities they inhabit during their meetings,” says Julius Robinson, vice president, Global Sales Intermediaries for Marriott. “It’s about what planners and attendees can see and feel throughout the entire process that creates value.” Organizations that have a good “green” experience often return to the same destination or venue for future meetings. In 2009 Charlotte highlighted the city’s hybrid bus efforts for the American Bus Association, and ABA rebooked in the city for 2013.

All agree that continuing to provide an excellent guest experience is critical regardless of what green initiatives are implemented. “We are thrilled that CGA corporate partners are leading the way in green meetings and hospitality,” says Tracey Messina Buonforte, executive director of CGA. “Their environmentally conscious attitude greatly benefits the quality of life on our planet without sacrificing an organization’s positive experience during an event or meeting.” The Convene Green Alliance is a grassroots, industry initiative with a membership of nearly 1,000 strong, and growing. CGA members seek to effect positive environmental practices through national, regional and local outreach and education. This initiative was developed in response to members’ demands that their association (and the meetings and events they sponsor), reflect best environmental practices. To learn more, visit them at