Corporate social responsibility meets the meeting industry

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During the last couple of years, we have written about corporate social responsibility and its importance to younger generations. Not surprisingly, we now find CSR has a rising importance in the meetings industry.
At its annual meeting last January, the Convention Industry Council Task Force on Sustainability and Accountability for the Professional Convention Management Association held its first meeting to determine how CIC organizations can serve as resources on environmental and social responsibility issues.
A short time thereafter, the association of Meeting Professionals International convened its own group of CSR experts to develop resources for its members. Meeting planners worldwide recognize that there is a strong trend toward the importance of CSR and green everything.
Not only are there more programs presented that focus on this vital topic, but hotel chains have developed attractive programs and meeting planners are buying.
Throughout North America, Kimpton Hotels has responded with a program called “Great Meetings Great Causes” which offers options from a menu that might include donations to favorite charities and/or help organizing volunteer efforts scheduled during meeting times.
The Ritz Carlton Hotel chain offers “Give Back Getaways”. Individual guests are offered opportunities to participate in various local causes, including working with marine biologists to return nesting sea turtles to the ocean or helping at a local center for “psychologically challenged children”.
Ritz believes many of their guests are philanthropic and often volunteer in their local communities.
Another concept is to set aside a block time for all attendees at a conference to give back by adopting a community project, e.g., assembling bicycles for needy children or other tasks that may take place en masse in a hotel ballroom. Can you imagine what a sense of accomplishment attendees will experience at the end of a day devoted to helping others in such a unique way?
Our forecast: more hotels across the planet will jump on the CSR bandwagon, coming up with innovative ways to support their local communities, giving their meeting planner clients what they are looking for, and giving attendees the opportunity to feel good about themselves.
From The Herman Trend Alert, by Joyce Gioia-Herman, strategic business futurist. www.hermangroup.com