Monday, November 29, 2010

Green Ideas from the Emory Conference Center

Emory Conference Center was recently named Atlanta's first LEED-certified conference center hotel.  Recent articles about the center's success listed off a few green and CSR ideas that you may also be able to implement at your own property!

As listed in the article by Hotel News Resource

  • Supplying kitchen oil to Emory University's shuttle bus service to reuse as biodiesel
  • Using single stream recycling processes, "where paper fibers are comingled, allowing an increase in the amount of materials recycled."
  • Sending partially or unused soap samples (from guest rooms) to Haiti as part of a hygiene-focused group called Clean the World
  • Giving partially used shampoo and conditioner samples to a local church

Do any readers have new or additional ideas to add to this list?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Marketing Committee Update

The Marketing Committee held a conference call on November 16th and discussed many topics including Customer Round Tables, webinars, and two upcoming editorials in Successful Meetings.  Read on to see what's going on in IACC!

Customer Round Tables
- opportunities to host the events awarded to 25 conference centers
- not all will likely happen, but it will provide a very large sample of customers
- first one was 11/17 in Arizona, then Stamford on December 8
- they will continue through February 5, 2011
- information and results will be presented at the annual conference

- to be posted on the IACC website for all to access
- purpose: selling the conference center concept
- working with Master Connections
- Length of the webinar: 90 minutes, but could be as long as we want
- targeted to beginning sales managers: selling on the benefits of IACC standards and the CMP
- material used would be from work done with HRG last year

Value difference between hotels & conference centers
- research being done
- spread sheet to be created to plainly show comparisons as well as intangible differences
- may work with Dana Communications to create
- will also want to post it on the website
- side topic: how to sell conference center concept to a potential client on a phone call – will need to follow the guidelines of being shopped

Successful Meetings – two upcoming editorial topics:
- How to manage your budget
- Corporate social responsibility – green isn’t gone

Annual Conference Updates
- working with MPI and STMP to coordinate a “bring your client” event on one day of the conference– feature is Copper Skillet event at lunch. Trade show booths in the afternoon. Hoping for 100 customers. Info going out soon.
- CSR component: raffling a scooter and making donations to Habitat for Humanity

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Corporate Social Responsibility....A New Emerging Trend Series

Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR. You’ve heard the acronym before, but do you really understand what it encompasses? This was a hot topic at the most recent IACC-Americas Board of Directors meeting as it may be the next large trend meeting planners and conference centers will face.

Before you start questioning what CSR is, whether it is worth your time, and how you may handle new requirements set by clients, take a step back. Chances are you are already doing many things that fall underneath the large umbrella of CSR.

According to a CSR Trends 2010 report created by Craib Design & Communications and Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP, Corporate Social Responsibility is, “A company’s commitment to operating in a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable manner, while recognizing the interests of its stakeholders.”

An easier way to think of it is as the triple bottom line: People, Planet, Profit.

If you implemented reuse/recycling programs at your conference center or requested them in RFPs, you participated in CSR. If you spent a day volunteering at a local community center with your co-workers, you participated in CSR. The challenge coming to the industry is how to expand these practices at conference centers in order to benefit stakeholders, and how to show potential customers that you provide exceptional CSR opportunities they can work into their meeting schedule.

While we have not measured how strong this trend is for our industry, Corporate Social Responsibility does seem to be gaining traction as a global business standard even in these tough economic times. The Craib study found that “addressing issues the once took a back seat to financial results… has become critical to a company’s credibility, transparency and endurance.” Of the 423 companies surveyed, 81% provide information on CSR on their website. 28% of companies utilize social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter to relay their CSR message, and 28% maintain company blogs. This shows that communicating activities about CSR is just as important as being socially responsible.

Due to the complex nature of this topic, the Emerging Trends Committee will spend a month discussing CSR. Committee members will give personal examples of what CSR systems are in action in their workplace, give ideas of how to incorporate new practices in your conference center, and discuss what steps IACC is taking to promote CSR throughout its membership. We will also consider ways to communicate these opportunities to clients and the world. What can we do to improve that triple bottom line? Stay tuned…

For more information on the Craib study: CSR Trends 2010, visit:

Written by:
Kasey Snyder and Meghan Bollenback

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Social Media -- Go It Alone or Hire a Specialist?

A hot topic at the latest board meeting involved the pros and cons of hiring a specialist to manage all social media aspects for your conference center versus assigning the duties to a member of your already-established management team.  It was a great discussion and valid points were made for both arguments.

To me, the greater benefit and ROI would come from hiring a specialist to handle social media.  Managing Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn or StumbleUpon can be very time intensive.  It requires a person that is willing to dig in and play around with the applications.

I understand that many conference centers or businesses are hesitant to outsource their social media to another company or hire a full-time employee due to budgetary constraints.  However, here is a short list of options to make it work:
  • Use your interns  -  Younger employees are most likely active in social media already and would have few problems creating new accounts and monitoring the activity.  The downside is that interns typically work for 10 to 12 weeks during the summer or winter, so you must have a strategic plan when that time comes and delegate these responsibilities to someone else.
  • Hire a part-time specialist - This person could work from home or come into the office a few days each week to make sure he/she is accomplishing the goals determined by the management team.  Many marketers, independent contractors, and PR-specialists have the skill sets needed to manage social media outlets, so look online at Monster or LinkedIn for individuals looking to pick up some extra work.  You would save money (such as in benefit costs) as this person would not be full-time.
  • Re-distribute tasks within your marketing team - Think wisely before simply adding "Social Media" to the list of one of your marketing staff's daily tasks.  Adding to that person's workload will add stress unless you relieve him/her of other job duties.  It will also produce ineffective results in your social media strategy in that not enough time will be spent managing the accounts.  If hiring a new individual is absolutely out of the question, re-evaluate how your marketing team operates and creatively design a way to make it work.  One more thing to note -- make sure the person is interested in social media and willing to get his/her hands dirty.

Lastly, save time and money by focusing on one or two social media outlets.  Facebook and Twitter may be the most obvious options, but Tumblr is a great resource as well you may not be familiar with.  It's a simple way to blog and share information about your property on a daily basis and may fit your property well.

In all, take your time in researching your options, form a strategy, and then move forward on hiring or assigning the job of monitoring social media to the right person. 

Written by:
Meghan Bollenback
Food & Beverage Manager
R. David Thomas Executive Conference Center