Tag Archives: green meetings

Five Reasons to Hold Your Meeting in Virginia

1.) Virginia Green
Virginia Green is a voluntary program sponsored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association. It is a network of tourism-related organizations and programs that are committed to protecting and promoting the environment.

Virginia Green Lodging was the first established program in the Virginia Green Network, but criteria are now developed for all sectors of the tourism industry! Minimum “core activities” have been developed for each of these sector categories, and they are encouraged to become as “green” as possible! Virginia Green “profiles” are developed for each facility so you can then choose to stay at a facility which offers the “green” amenities that you value!

2.) New Convention Centers
Richmond expanded its convention center to include more than 180,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space with more than 32 meeting rooms, and will soon have a new 250-room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel just steps away. As part of their redevelopment plan, Richmond will boast a new performing arts complex as well.

Virginia Beach is home to a new convention center with a 37,000 square-foot ballroom, 150,000 square feet of exhibit space, and over 25,000 square feet of additional meeting space. Hampton is also home to a new convention center with more than 344,000 total square feet and a new adjacent 300-room Embassy Suites.  Meeting attendees can walk to the center through a covered walkway from the hotel. Wytheville, in Virginia’s Blue Ridge region, also has a new convention facility with 24,000 square feet of functional meeting space and an 8,500 square-foot banquet hall. Nearby hotels will have more than 1,200 rooms.

3.) Unique Virginia Meeting Spaces
As Virginia moves closer to the forefront of American winery states – the Commonwealth is now fifth in number of wineries – so too do the gathering and meeting spaces at many Virginia wineries. From space for up to 2,000 people to intimate rooms for a smaller corporate or other gathering, many Virginia wineries offer unique and modern facilities for your meeting.

Specialized facilities such as Primland Resort, Marriott Ranch and Hylton Memorial Chapel and Conference Center can give attendees a unique experience. Whether it is having an outing or event at a fabulous museum or historical site or taking your group to the beach for a team-building event, Virginia has many unique venues to choose from.

4.) Conference Centers
As for existing state-of-the-art venues, Virginia’s roster is seemingly endless. From Norfolk’s Waterside and Portsmouth’s Renaissance Hotel and Waterfront Conference Center, to the Blue Ridge region’s Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, and Northern Virginia’s National Conference Center, Virginia offers it all.

Resorts and specialized conference centers such as the Homestead, Lansdowne, Airlie Center, Chesapeake Conference Center, The Tides Inn and Wintergreen cater to all sizes of meetings. Colonial Williamsburg and Kingsmill, Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, and Mountain Lake, Natural Bridge and Hotel Roanoke in the Blue Ridge/Shenandoah Valley as well as conference facilities in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and the rest of the Northern Virginia region offer matchless attractions as well as first-class meeting amenities. Convenient air service is available to most of these facilities; others are accessible through expanded road services.

5.) Virginia’s Historical Attractions and Natural Beauty
Home to eight U. S. presidents, seven signers of the Declaration of Independence and countless other national patriots, Virginia’s history is America’s heritage — from the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 to the training of the original seven American astronauts at NASA Langley.

The Commonwealth is home to eight Indian nations represented in the eastern and western areas of the state, as well as to more than 120 farm and estate wineries and more than 220 golf courses that enhance visitors’ stays. Shenandoah National Park, as well as Virginia’s state parks – voted the best in the nation by the National Sporting Goods Association’s Sports Foundation Inc. – offer splendid mountain retreats, water vistas and serene getaways as well as unique meeting sites.

For pre- and post-meeting venues, meetings and conference attendees enjoy hundreds of miles of lookouts over spectacular scenery on Virginia’s 105-mile Skyline Drive, which joins the Blue Ridge Parkway at Waynesboro and rides the crests of the Blue Ridge Mountains. More active travelers experience the camping, hiking and other activities accessible just off these premier scenic drives. From the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay coastline to Northern Virginia’s worlds of horse country and high-tech to the Heart of Appalachia at the far western corner of the state, year-round special events including indigenous music, cuisine and heritage, attract visitors from around the world.

Let us help!

More than 52 of Virginia’s towns and cities have well-trained meeting professionals on hand to assist with every meeting planner’s needs.  Reach each of Virginia’s convention and visitors bureaus here or directly through their own website. CVB meeting professionals can assist with familiarization tours of their area as well.  The Virginia Tourism Corporation also has a national sales manager, Joni Johnson, who can assist. Call Joni at 804-545-5544 or email jjohnson@virginia.org.

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!