A number of years ago I attended an American Hotel & Lodging Association conference in Atlanta. Attendees were given the option of staying an extra day to participate in a work project that involved cleaning up the grounds of a community center. I participated in that event even though I knew I would miss another day in the office and would have to pay more for another night in a hotel. Fortunately the publication I was working for at that time did not mind me staying an extra day to volunteer. I will be attending a conference next month that is also offering a community service event outside the hotel. To participate, attendees will have to come in early.
While community service events outside of a hotel certainly can be worthwhile as a team building exercise, they often require too much time and can be logistically and financially challenging. Increasingly, meeting planners and hotel conference center personnel are joining to organize ballroom-based community service events that last two hours or less. I spoke with Alan Ranzer, managing partner and co-founder of Impact 4 Good this past week and he told me more and more companies are trying to align their meetings with social causes that mean most to them while staying on schedule and minimizing the hassle of going off-site.
Ranzer’s firm helps meeting planners organize community service events at the meeting site. Examples of activities his clients have participated in include: packaging together earthquake kits for Haiti, building bookshelves that are later donated to local children, designing layer cakes that are later donated to boys and girls clubs, or creating miniature solar cars and then racing them. The cars are later donated to schools. (A list of other types of activities a group may consider can be found here.) Ranzer told me most community service events like these can be organized from $50 to $120 per person.
Connection to 2008
You may recall that in 2008, as the recession hit hard, several prominent companies were criticized for exorbitant travel. Ironically, it was at that time that Ranzer says interest in community service during meetings skyrocketed. “Perception became the story,” he says. “Companies realized they still had to meet but they had to deal with negative images associated with meetings.”
No matter the motive, community service events today are more than a trend; they are part of the fabric of most companies and you need to be prepared to accommodate requests for these types of events. Community service events help create positive memories for meeting attendees, they create a sense of team and mission, and of course they have a tangible positive impact on the local, national, or even international community.
Many companies already have the infrastructure in place to make “ballroom” volunteerism easier. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, for example, as part of its Sustainable Meeting Practices, offers the opportunity for meeting attendees to give back to the local community through on-site team-building and/or volunteer activities.
Has your property participated in “ballroom” type community service? I would love to learn what types of activities were organized. I will share those in a future column. I can be reached at (440) 243-2055 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Green Lodging News Adds Odorfree Naturally as Directory Partner
Green Lodging News welcomes Odorfree Naturally as a Green Product & Service Directory partner. Odorfree Naturally is the U.S. distributor of all natural Nature’s Air Sponge products. The products work to passively neutralize and remove odors and pollutants from the air and objects in hotels, motels, resorts, inns and other living and storage areas. The products also help remove allergens and spores from the air to retard the spread of mold and mildew. Tobacco and cooking odors can also be eliminated. Nature’s Air Sponge products come in a gel form, spray liquid form, or in a concentrated form in a 1 gallon container. Call (952) 476-8372, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.odorfreenaturally.com for more details.
Who is Your Environmental Champion?
In our Personnel Profile section we frequently profile individuals who lead sustainability efforts at either the corporate or property level. (Click here for examples.) We are always looking for new people to profile. Do you have someone in mind for our Personnel Profile section? Be sure to contact Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor of Green Lodging News, at (440) 243-2055, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for Guest Columnists
Every two weeks Green Lodging News posts a new guest column on its website. (Click here for examples.) The guest column also appears in the weekly e-newsletter. Green Lodging News is currently in need of industry experts to contribute occasional guest columns. Experts may include consultants, architects, designers, suppliers and those who own or operate green lodging establishments. Columns may be articles that take a stance on a particular subject or be strictly educational in nature. Columnists benefit by having their photo included along with a one paragraph description of their company. Interested in writing a column? Contact Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor, at (440) 243-2055, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Planning Advertising for 2012?
Green Lodging News is accepting reservations for advertising spots for 2012. Many excellent spots are available on the website and in the weekly e-mail newsletter. Many Green Supplier Spotlight dates are also available. Interested in receiving a 2012 media kit? Be sure to contact me as soon as possible at (440) 243-2055, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. A media kit can also be accessed by clicking here. Thank you to all of those companies that consistently support Green Lodging News.
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