This week we hear from Andres Serrato, Corporate Director of Sales for Connect DMC. He gives us his take aways from the SITE Week Ideation session on Building a Strategy for Sustainability. Carol Ann Brown from Delphi Group Canada; Cherie Weinstein at Landry & Kling and Ben Sauvage from Connect DMC, had a live discussion about where we stand on sustainability and shared valuable ideas on how to build a sustainable event strategy based on the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Meet our SITE Week Ideation Session Scribe:

Andres Serrato has over 12 years of experience in different segments of the travel industry, primarily focused in the Caribbean and Latin America region. He began his career back in his native Cancun with the Apple Leisure group, gaining experience in meetings and events with Amstar DMC as a sales executive. He then moved into cross-training as the sales manager for high-end, luxury hotels at Palace Resorts. He is currently Corporate Director of Sales, leading teams in the Dominican Republic and Mexico for Connect DMC, a leading destination management company in Latin-America.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In the midst of these trying times, let us not forget the importance of continuing to make progress in our sustainable goals. On one hand, we have the world in strange awe after discovering the amazing power of nature to reclaim itself (when negative human impacts are forced to grind to a halt). On the other hand, excessive consumerism continues and Covid related fear overshadows other important world issues.

There are 17 existing Sustainable Development Goals, created by the United Nations as blueprints to address global challenges and achieve a more sustainable future. These goals were set in 2015 looking at broad implementation by 2030. Each one has on average 10 targets to measure progress. This SITE session was a live discussion about where the MICE Industry stands on sustainability. It involved the sharing of some valuable ideas on how to build a sustainable event strategy based on the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Current State

While many of us understand the real importance of basic environmentally responsible practices, unfortunately the global pandemic has taken us back into consuming larger amounts of “safer” single use plastics and a more wasteful way of life. Some basic solutions were discussed at this session, which ranged from limiting consumption to the use of alternative bio-products instead of non recyclable plastics.

During this open conversation, we also talked about one of the biggest challenges for our event professionals in pre-pandemic times, food waste. Something that is so easily overlooked but paramount for sustainable event practices. Planners have, at every function, the potential to considerably reduce the amount of waste. Panelists understand that there is a thin line between making sure events are sufficiently supplied for unforeseen circumstances and producing an unfortunate amount of food waste. There are ways around this though, by asking a few questions and making sure non-profit organizations benefit from the surplus.

For those of us who need more guidance on how to start implementing SDGs, our panel of experts shared the following 8 basic ideas to find your sustainable path based on their professional experience.

How to Start being Sustainable

  1. Build your strategy. Understand what you are doing, assess how you can impact employees, facilities or your community.
  2. Encourage sustainability where you know you can truly make a change.
  3. Know that it’s ok not to implement all SDGs. Try engaging with 1 first and define how to address the issue in your event or organization.
  4. Understand the best way to implement this SDG in your particular circumstances, by taking on projects like recycling stations, water refilling stations or else.
  5. One of the most effective ways to implement SDGs within your company is investing in social benefits for the team. This will automatically motivate them to work in that direction. These can be, for example, electric bike transportation, Tesla charging stations, etc.
  6. Build a sustainable value brand through your actions and real efforts. They will set you apart from others and create team building.
  7. Every positive action, no matter how small, will allow you to create a sustainability virtuous cycle. HR perks through sustainability can go a long way, improving the perception of your brand which can attract motivated employees that may align better with your values, bring more investment opportunities and ultimately provide cost-effectiveness.
  8. Last but not least, remember that sustainability is a journey, take a moment to make adjustments along the line when needed.
SITE Week Ideation Session Series:

SITE Week saw SITE Global hosting 46 Ideation Sessions over the course of 2 days, 2 times zones, and catering to over 1500 registrations. The idea was simple – facilitated brain-storming to help us all prepare for the road ahead, collaborating through the sharing of thoughts, insights and perspectives from across the globe, while collaborating and celebrating the togetherness of the larger SITE community. A scribe attended each session, with the role of articulating of his/her thoughts into an informative article which would be a summation of their takeaways from the session.