By Jane Scaletta, CIS

I look up from my keyboard and it’s a beautiful sunny day in paradise. The sun streaming in from my window hits my glass and the water comes alive, sparkling and dancing. I take a long sip and I’m thankful we have a water cooler in the office to save on using plastic water bottles. We share our passion for sustainability with our clients by offering them options on ways to leave less of a carbon footprint on our destination.  Why is sustainability important? The short answer is that sustainability makes good business sense.

As a Positive Impact Ambassador on SITE’s Sustainability Committee and in a community of global influencers, we work towards SITE’s goals:

  1. Develop a sustainability charter
  2. Create a committee with monthly education content with future certificate programs
  3. Integrate sustainability into 2018 SITE and SITE Foundation events

What does sustainability mean in the MICE market? An academic meaning is an enduring and balanced approach to social progress, economic activity and environment responsibility.  We are committed to the three pillars of sustainability, which are social, environmental and economic.

Positive Impact shares the five most commonly stated reasons for the importance of sustainability:

1.         Save you money

2.         We have limited environmental resources

3.         Your customers care about making a difference      

The tourism industry generates the largest waste footprint wherever it goes, but is seeing the benefits of sustainability and implementing sustainable practices.

DMCs today are implementing sustainability in their business model and working with suppliers who practice sustainability. Destination Nashville’s Carol Norfleet’s, CMP, DMCP, client puts sustainability in the forefront of everything they do and their goal is ZERO waste when they meet. They embraced local farms and seasonal foods, reduced vehicle traffic to their event, and designed no-waste décor.

AlliedPRA Hawaii’s Robert D. Lowell said they worked with a client that took their CSR event to the next level. Volunteers planted Ulu and Coconut trees in west Maui. In a year from now, there will be a forest of trees producing fruit!

In 2016 the UN developed 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world and many luxury hotels have embraced these SDGs. U.S. Hotels like EAST Miami has created a focus on sustainability. The hotel’s water pressure system has been regulated in order to reduce water use, protect against water loss and increase energy efficiency. Grand Cayman has opened its first LEED Silver-certified resort, the Seafire Resort & Spa, kitted out with recycled and sustainable materials.

The DMC industry realizes that sustainability is paramount for our future. We can make a difference if we focus on sustainability. How can you help?

  • Do your clients use locally sourced food?
  • Do your suppliers implement sustainable practices?
  • Do your clients minimize food wastage?
  • Do your clients track food consumption?
  • Do you have eco-friendly facilities that use renewable energy-powered infrastructures?
  • Do you use recycle bins at events?
  • Do you use seed paper name badges?
  • Is leftover food distributed to a local food bank?

Ovation Global DMC’s Hugo Slimbrouck said they have over a decade of dedication to sustainability. He works with his clients on creating a sustainability strategy with vision, goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). They work closely with the community to help reduce waste and propose projects to make an event carbon neutral.

How are you improving your levels of sustainability?

  • Are you aligning your company culture with sustainability at your events?
  • Are you saving costs by going local, or green, or managing waste?
  • Are you creating innovative ideas and experiences to get attendees involved?

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

Bio:  Jane Scaletta, CIS, General Manager of AlliedPRA, Orlando, Florida is a long-time member and active volunteer with SITE.  She grew up in Jamaica and went to boarding school in England before moving to the United States in the late 70’s. Jane has worked in most travel and tourism disciplines while living in the US and Caribbean. She was Vice President of Entertainment for a dinner attraction, worked in several incentive travel companies as a Program Manager, handled groups and events for a Convention and Visitors Bureau, managed groups and events for a golf resort and villas, owned her own luxury yacht charter business, and served as the Executive Director for the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.