Tag Archives: green meetings

CVBs Bring Strong Value to Meetings

It’s not often that something really valuable is available for free. But when it comes to Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs), it’s usually true!

Just think of the many services that CVBs provide for free to meeting professionals. Even experienced planners don’t always know everything they provide.

“When I worked for a CVB, I was amazed at all the services we provided that were just there for the asking,” says ConventionPlanit.com Co-Founder and Principal Katherine Markham, CHME. “I was always urging my clients to take advantage of them. Some did, but many did not. I think they missed out on some easy ways to make their meetings better.”

They can’t guarantee that it won’t rain during your event, and every CVB offers a different package, but here are just some of the free or low-cost services that CVBs typically provide:

Recommendations of reliable suppliers for everything from bus transportation to local caterers

• Extensive knowledge of unique local offsite locations for special events

• Assistance in identifying and booking hotels in the destination

• Coordination of site visits to hotels and other venues

• Collateral information on local attractions

Onsite assistance with registration and local information booths

• Public relations and local media contacts

Videos of the destination for promoting your meeting

• Welcome packets

Discounts to local restaurants, shops, and other attractions

• Welcome letters and appearances by local leaders

• Ideas and programs to make meetings greener

• Social responsibility programs such as volunteer opportunities at local charities

Many CVBs are listed on ConventionPlanit.com, making it easy to connect to some of these resources.

Save Time and Money on Food and Beverage

Meeting planners know better than anyone else how to cut food and beverage costs.

Here are some tips from the inside – advice shared by fellow meeting planners in the  “Stellar Tips” section of ConventionPlanit.com:

1.  Customize Menus

It’s no secret that food and beverage can be expensive.  Customizing menus can allow for greater variety, fresher ingredients, and cut costs.  Provide a total dollar amount to the chef or catering manager and request custom menus (keeping specific requirements in mind).

The chef is given flexibility to use seasonal or local specials, or piggyback other events being held that day, take advantage of specials offered by food suppliers – all while offering smaller and healthier portions and staying within budget.

2.  Alter the Food Presentation

Pass or butler more expensive items at a reception to make them last longer and save money.  Using napkins instead of plates, or asking the caterer to slice bakery items in half (bagels, muffins, croissants) allow for portion control.

3.  Eliminate Individual Beverages

Replace cans of soda with a self-service fountain soda station situated near the break area, and use water pitchers or coolers instead of bottles.   Attendees won’t be tempted to ‘take one for the road’.  These options are more cost effective (one planner saved $1000 by switching to water coolers!) and are good for the environment, too.

4.  Monitor a Beverage Manager

While doing the BEO, mention you would like to be present when the beverage manager tallies the bars and empties before they are finalized. (Liquor is counted by tenths of a bottle and then billed accordingly).

One count discrepancy resulting in a measurement change can equate to as many as 10-12 drinks!  This keeps the beverage manager on his toes and can result in hundreds of dollars in savings.

5.  Use a Voucher Program

Instead of preparing a traditional break time, ask the hotel to provide vouchers for the lobby snack shop.  Attendees are given vouchers, each worth $3, for example.  Each item in the snack shop is worth one voucher.  The vouchers are then counted and charged to the master account – which can be significantly less costly than a large break time.

Green Meetings: Getting Started

Incorporating environmentally-friendly components into meetings is no longer trendy or cutting edge, it has become necessary.  Here are a few guidelines to help get started thinking green:

1. Choosing a Green Location

Make a difference from every aspect of your conference by choosing a green city. Conduct research when selecting your location.  Look for cities with high percentages of renewable energy, green building guidelines, and a commitment to city-wide green programs (such as park construction).

Green-friendly destinations are eager to work with you to meet your green requirements and implement your ideas at the convention center. For the 2010 PCMA Annual Conference, Vice President of Meetings & Events Kelly Peacy said she worked closely with the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau to infuse green elements into all areas of the conference, including area, including the destination, accommodations, food and beverage, communications, and operations.

2. Implementation: Make a Difference

Support local organically grown food as much as possible and consider donating leftover food to a local food bank or

composting other unused food.

Providing green hotels for conference housing is important.  Look for LEED Certified properties,

and ask about special green efforts the hotel is involved with, such as donating leftover soap to a recycling effort to provide people in developing nations with soap.

3. Words of Encouragement:

“You don’t just go out and suddenly become a green organization,” Peacy said. “You have to build on it. You need to decide how high green ranks on your list of organizational strategic objectives. We asked that question and determined that it was very important, so we put significant resources toward it. At PCMA it is half of one person’s job. Every year we build new objectives. If PCMA can be recognized as an industry leader to educate our members about green that would be a success.”

Don’t stop with these ideas; strive to innovate for green efforts in all areas of your meeting!