Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has commissioned my team to manage a three year study into the importance and value of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the meeting and event industry.

This study, the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken, intends to bring new insights into how the meeting and event industry can build a sustainable future through best practices. As part of this study, we will be surveying 37,000 meetings, conference and congress organisers, promoters, buyers and clients- the largest CSR survey of its kind.  The overall goal is to produce a detailed report against three core areas defined as external environment, industry engagement and consumer demand.

For a long time I have been saying that we place to much emphasis on leisure tourism, and we ought to focus on business travel- the conference, conventions, meetings and more broadly events industry are well placed to test whether sustainability certification and requirements for corporate disclosure on CSR are now a well established requirement to trade, and how this trend is evolving globally- studying all of MPI’s membership base, over three years, provides a wealth of data never compiled under one study before. Continue Reading »


The  article from Lluis Garay and Xavier Font  in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, soon to be published, shows that:

  • Businesses that take sustainability actions for eco-savings reasons perform best financially,
  • Businesses that take sustainability actions for moral reasons are happy with their financial performance, but don’t perform as well as the first group, and
  • Businesses that take the least sustainability actions also have the lowest financial results.

The data was collected from 400 accommodation suppliers in Catalonia, Spain. We are now testing with 900 businesses in Europarc destinations across Europe, and I will share the results from this research in the near future.

I’ve been working with Fáilte Ireland now for nine months to prepare their Green Marketing toolkit, which I am proud to see come out today.  The main text already existed for the VisitEngland original document (who has licensed Fáilte Ireland  and VisitWales to have their own versions created).  The Wales version willl come out shortly.

The main effort in Ireland has been identifying case studies. You might think this would be an easy task. Oh, no. Companies in England were shy to talk about their sustainability credentials, and in most cases we found poor examples of management speak in their websites. But finding companies in Ireland was much harder. For a start, our remit was to work with primarily environmentally certified firms- Green Tourism Business Scheme, Green Hospitality Awards, EU Flower, Greenbox primarily. What we found is that most certification programmes pretty much ignore the green communication requirements, focusing almost exclusively on ecosavings management. These should be the firms that can confidently communicate their credentials, but weren’t.

The work for Fáilte Ireland has included face to face group training, writing over 50 individual reviews of accommodation businesses websites on their sustainability communications, and the interviews with businesses that led to this last report. To select the 30 case studies in this document, more than 60 interviews took place, trying to find an angle on how those businesses did something relatively easy for others to learn from and copy, with a small budget.

View the interactive pdf online or Download the pdf.

I am now now completing the VisitWales version of this same document, these two new versions (Ireland and Wales) are licensed by VisitEngland.

Greenwashing is everywhere, if we are to believe Terrachoice. Their Sins of Greenwashing 2010 report tells us how the number of greenwashing incidents continues to grow, mostly with companies making claims on how they have dealt with some of the less significant impacts, while omiting all sorts of other issues. Companies get more penalised for sticking their head above the parapet and actually dealing with some of their impacts, than for burying it in the sand and ignoring the whole agenda. But how does a company choose when and how to report, so they can be taken seriously for their efforts? What is enough to feel confident about public disclosure?

I have been analysing the data from 10 international leisure hotel chains further- our research was conducted for 9 national consumer associations and published in March 2011, and presented at ITB Berlin. With my academic hat on, I am now delving more deeply into the data. There’s some really interesting lessons to be learned, which I shall present to ICRT alumni in London on Wed 13th July (alumni know where and when we meet monthly). Here’s a sneak preview: Continue Reading »

You can read in Green Lodging News about the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center, who have  launched an offer arguably to attract more green customers- traveling in hybrid and electric vehicles. With its new “Go Green, Get Green” package, guests who arrive at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel in a hybrid vehicle and stay for two nights or more through September 1, 2011, will receive a $25 Visa gift card. It is most unlikely it will attract customers, and I do not believe the package was created for that purpose, but to raise awareness of Wyndham as a brand. So let’s put this in context. Continue Reading »

Do marketers care about sustainability, and should they? You can guess the answer to both. A report from the United Nations Environment Programme helps us to understand better where we are and where we want to go Continue Reading »

What are you trying to do? I mean, why are you letting people know you are green? Is your aim to change how people: 1) view the world- the culture of consumption, or 2) what they actually do or buy? Is your aim to satisfy market needs by making them aware of these and turning them into demands? Or do you see your role as in satisfying demands they are already aware of?  The further down this list you go, the easier your job is in a way, but also the less attention you will receive for it is less innovative. Continue Reading »