Practical Sustainability: A How-To Event for Meeting Planners

Northstar Meetings Group's Destination Southeast will offer solid strategies for going green to help preserve the environment.


Environmental concerns resonate everywhere today, and the events industry is doing its share to address this global issue. By incorporating sustainability into meeting planning and execution, planners are delivering exceptional experiences that also help keep our earth green.

Jane Scaletta, DMCP, CIS, president, Dolfin Destinations

For the MICE market, sustainability means taking an enduring and balanced approach to social progress, economic activity and environmental responsibility, according to Jane Scaletta, DMCP CIS, president of Dolfin Destinations. "Planners need to be committed to these three pillars," she says. Ben Sauvage, founder and CEO, Connect DMC, adds that MICE sustainability incorporates "...practical solutions for improving environmental performance in areas such as food and beverage, transportation, supply-chain management and effective methods for achieving corporate social responsibility goals."

Together, Scaletta and Sauvage will delve further into "Becoming a Sustainability Champion" during Northstar Meetings Group's Destination Southeast, taking place next month in Florida. They will explain why sustainability is essential to our industry, how event strategies can both positively and negatively impact our environment, and how planners can improve their impact. Here are some advance insights on the greening of the meetings industry and what buyers and suppliers can learn during next month's event. 

Doing Your Part

Whether finding out about CSR initiatives, developing venue partnerships or learning strategies to apply within your meeting's destination, head to Destination Southeast to sharpen your MICE sustainability skills. 

"The DMC industry realizes that sustainability is paramount for our future, and professionals across the hospitality sector have been taking strides to do their part," says Scaletta. She points out that hotels like the East Miami have created a focus on sustainability by regulating water-pressure systems to reduce use, protect against loss and increase energy efficiency. Destinations like Grand Cayman have opened LEED Silver-certified resorts such as the Seafire Resort & Spa, outfitted with recycled and sustainable materials.

How can you make a difference? Scaletta suggests starting the sustainability journey by answering these questions: 

  • Do my clients use locally sourced food?
  • Do my suppliers implement sustainable practices?
  • Do my clients minimize food wastage?
  • Do my clients track food consumption?
  • Do I have eco-friendly facilities that use renewable energy-powered infrastructures?
  • Do I use recycle bins at events?
  • Do I use seed-paper name badges?
  • Is our events' leftover food distributed to a local food bank?
  • How am I improving my levels of sustainability?
  • Am I aligning my company culture with sustainability events?
  • Am I saving costs by going local, green and managing waste?
  • Am I creating innovative ideas and experiences to get attendees involved?

"The most important thing to remember is that we can change the world one person at a time," Scaletta notes. "If we focus on what we want our future to look like and how we want to leave our world to future generations, every action toward sustainability is in a positive direction."

CSR and Sustainability

Following Hurricane Irma, Connect DMC and a client shared a vision to transform the Vista Alegre -- a neglected and damaged rural school in the Dominican Republic -- into a learning center for 85 children, says Sauvage. 

Ben Sauvage, founder and CEO, Connect DMC

"Thanks to generous donations, over 200 volunteers over the course of three months worked to build a hurricane-proof roof, book shelves, benches, school tables, fans, restrooms and a full playground," he says. "We also planted trees and grass surrounding the property."

Since that effort, Connect DMC has provided support to several schools, orphanages and baseball playgrounds, involving local communities who work together to promote a healthy environment. "Conscious of sustainability's long-lasting importance, we also train communities to maintain these resources," says Sauvage. "These days, CSR and sustainability go hand-in-hand. They're intertwined."

Both Scaletta and Sauvage bring up the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals -- an end to poverty; zero hunger; good health and well being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable, clean energy; decent work and economic growth; reduced inequality; sustainable cities; responsible consumption and production; positive climate action; thriving life below water; robust life on land; peace and justice via strong institutions; partnerships to achieve these goals; and enlightened industry, innovation and infrastructure. 

"If planners remember to embrace these goals, CSR actions and events in general have the power to create a bridge between events, travelers and local communities," says Sauvage.   

Continuing the Conversation

Jane Scaletta and Ben Sauvage will take the stage together during Destination Southeast to tackle sustainability and the MICE market. Attendees can expect to walk away from the session armed with facts and strategies that will enhance their approach to a healthier environment. 

Destination Southeast takes place Oct. 2-4, 2019, at the Margaritaville Resort Orlando in Kissimmee, Fla. It is the leading hosted-buyer event for top-level, prequalified meetings and incentive professionals looking to book business in the Southeast. Learn more about Destination Southeast and other upcoming Northstar events here