Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts
Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts rolled out in March a programme that encourages planners to do more for the planet during their corporate gatherings.
The Sustainable Meeting Practices programme rewards meeting planners and organisers who are Starwood Preferred Guest and SPG Pro members with 2,000 bonus Starpoints for every event booked at nearly 300 participating hotels across the region. The offer is valid up to October 31 for arrivals by December 31, 2016, and a minimum spend of US$10,000 is required.
As part of the programme, participating hotels offer a comprehensive range of options that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible, and these promise to enhance the delegate experience. Steps taken towards this end include featuring locally sourced produce and sustainable seafood on the menu, doing away with table coverings or using reusable ones, and having recycling bins in all meeting spaces.
The Andaman A Luxury Collection Resort in Langkawi, for example, uses its unique location close to an 8,000-year-old fringing coral reef in Datai Bay to offer corporate clients a unique teambuilding programme that involves coral transplanting activities to help restore The Andaman Reef which had thousands of coral colonies destroyed by the 2004 tsunami.
The hotel holds The Andaman Reef especially dear, as it had helped to break the force of the destructive tsunami waves. Furthermore, the reef is home to a wide variety of marine life, which in turn helps the local fishermen earn a living.
At the heart of the reef rehabilitation programme is The Andamanâs Coral Nursery, a purpose-built facility where guests can get up close with different species of live corals and learn about the reef under the guidance of Gerry Goeden, head of marine environment at The Andaman, and his team. Delegates can snorkel in the pond, touch the corals and learn about its function in the underwater ecosystem.
Both the Coral Nursery and the reef rehabilitation programme are supported by the hotelâs Marine Life Laboratory, a multipurpose indoor space at the lobby.
Through the teambuilding exercise and visits to the Coral Nursery, delegates will play a direct role in conserving the marine environment at Datai Bay and in creating a more sustainable local fishing industry.
The Andamanâs general manager, Christian Metzner, said: âMultinational companies with headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are increasingly looking for corporate social responsibility programmes involving meaningful projects which can be incorporated into the meeting and incentive programmes.
âIt gives us an edge during the bidding process that we can offer this programme which is unique to Langkawi and I believe, the only one of its kind.â
Starwood also provides a free Meetings Impact Report (MIR) that assesses the environmental impact of individual events via indicators such as energy and water consumption, waste management and sustainable food choices. Once the MIR is calculated using the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, meeting planners can offset the eventâs carbon footprint through donation opportunities offered by South Pole Carbon, Starwoodâs global carbon-offset partner.
Starwood vice president, sales â Asia Pacific, Nichlas Maratos, said: âWe recognise that besides making sure that our internal operations and infrastructure are ecosystem friendly, our efforts should also include our customers and make it possible for them to actively participate in and be involved in this initiative.â
He added: âWe see it as our ongoing efforts to educate our customers about how much they can do for the environment if they made sustainable options.â
â S Puvaneswary
Pan PacificÂ Hotels Group
Pan Pacific Hotels Groups (PPHG) has an active community outreach programme in Singapore. Among them is a periodic activity that sees chefs from various properties in Singapore visiting Bakery Hearts, a local social enterprise that provides women from low-income families an opportunity to supplement their household income by making and selling baked goods, to teach the women how to bake tasty and beautiful pastries.
But PPHG takes its partnership with Bakery Hearts further by involving the organisation in three public fund-raising events held at the Parkroyal on Beach Road hotel in July and November 2015 and April 2016, during which guests were able to purchase baked goods.
The Singapore Cheshire Home is another beneficiary of PPHGâs corporate social responsibility programme, and the hotel company had featured handicraft created by the residents at an internal Chinese New Year function this year. More than 300 guests in attendance were invited to purchase the art pieces.
Ng Cuili, a spokesperson with PPHG, told TTGmice that the company is presently exploring opportunities to involve both beneficiaries in corporate events hosted at Pan Pacific and Parkroyal branded properties in Singapore.
Ng said: âThe Singapore Cheshire Home is happy to work with us to make their handicraft available for sale at corporate events held at PPHG properties, and we are discussing how to make this a regular initiative.â
While such a collaboration is still being discussed with Bakery Hearts, Ng
said her team is ready and âhappyâ to connect interested corporate clients with the organisation.
To helps guests and meeting clients conserve the environment during their stay and events at the Pan Pacific Singapore, the hotel participates in Soap for Hope, a soap-recycling project which involves the collection and donation of unfinished soap bars in guestrooms, reprocessing and sterilising them, and then donating them to rural areas and communities in South-east Asia.
The hotel also re-distributes unconsumed food and pastries from events held on premises to the staff cafeteria and unused notepads to internal associates.
Throughout the hotelâs F&B outlets, condiments are provided in refillable containers instead of convenient packs to minimise packaging waste.
To reduce paper wastage, the hotelâs express checkout feature allows guests to view their bills from the in-room IPTV while soft copy invoices are emailed to registered guestsâ emails, should these be required. â Karen Yue and Paige Lee Pei Qi
Last May, Hilton Worldwide announced an expanded carbon emissions solution, the Clean Air Program, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of meetings and events held at more than 90 hotels and resorts in Asia-Pacific.
Under this programme, event planners are given a free analysis of the carbon emissions of their event. Hilton uses LightStay, its proprietary system to calculate environmental performance and track carbon emissions from every meeting and event. Its âmeeting calculatorâ feature takes into account the function roomâs water and electricity usage, and the food consumed at the event.
Hilton then purchases the equivalent carbon credits to finance environmentally-friendly projects acrossÂ the regionÂ in partnership with carbon offset solutions provider Climate Friendly.
Martin Rinck, president Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide, said: âThe awareness of carbon production has been profiled especially over the past five years. It is at the forefront of everyoneâs mind.
âAs a responsible organisation, it is important to do the right thing than to do things right. When we come out with such a programme, it is about giving organisations who are planning events the ability to offset their carbon footprint on their behalf.â
Hilton has identified nine projects across Asia-Pacific to be funded under the Clean Air Program, including the Tasmanian Native Forest Protection Project in Australia, 45-Turbine Wind Project in Tamil Nadu India, Borneo Rainforest Rehabilitation Project in Sarawak, Malaysia, and the Siam Cement Biomass Project in Thailand. The programme covers all events held in participating hotels and resorts. â Paige Lee Pei Qi
InterContinental Hotels Group
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) properties are guided by the IHG Green Engage system in their operations by way of a checklist of actions that helps hotels monitor, reduce and manage energy, water, waste consumption and carbon emissions.
Such actions include the use of environmentally-friendly event materials, the avoidance of disposable dining ware, cutlery and single-serving containers, provision of restaurant menus that indicate the local origin of food and beverage options, and the display of bathroom signs to guide efficient use of water.
According to Michael Blanding, director, corporate responsibility, Asia, Middle East, Africa and Greater China, the checklist takes into account costs and guest experience.
Specific to meeting groups, IHG hotels âpromote local sustainability initiatives such as low carbon alternative means of transport, and provide meeting delegates with feedback on their energy and resource usageâ, said Blanding.
âWe also promote each hotelâs participation in the IHG Green Engage system and their associated certification level on IHG booking sites to help meeting delegates make sustainable travel choices,â he added. â Paige Lee Pei Qi
Â Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
Shangri-La Hotels and Resortsâ effort in sustainability can be traced back to 2013 when it launched the Experience It teambuilding philosophy to differentiate its meeting product as well as to engage and inspire guests through activities tied to hotelsâ corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives.
Within this philosophy are three touchpoints: one, to partner with one of Shangri-Laâs community engagement programmes; two, to participate in special biodiversity conservation projects and habitat-protection initiatives; three, to be involved in healthy, on-site activities and sustainability initiatives.
The Experience It programme is unique in the way that each Shangri-La property has the flexibility to develop its own offerings. Shangri-Laâs Mactan Resort & Spa, for example, offers an Experience It programme that gets meeting delegates to build a fish house, plant corals and go on a Shangri-La Marine Sanctuary Discovery Tour.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resortsâ director of CSR and sustainability, Yui Ku, told TTGmice that event planners want opportunities to deliver memorable experiences.
âThrough interaction with local children or participation in an eco-themed teambuilding exercise, (meeting delegates) can do things differently and for a purpose,â she said.
According to Yui, events often run on a tight schedule and planners, restricted by a limited budget, are normally unable to conduct an activity as impactful as an Experience It programme.
In addition to Experience It, Shangri-La properties also actively work to reduce the carbon footprint of events held on premises, such as by using water dispensers, substituting glass containers for bottled mineral water (its resorts have their own water bottling facility), using ingredients sourced locally, and re-purposing wine crates and boxes as food stands, litter bins or ornaments.
Yui added: âThe reduction of carbon emissions is part of our overall efforts to reduce environmental impact across all our hotels. The group-wide target in 2015 was to reduce the carbon footprint intensity by 20 per cent from 2010 levels; specific targets were allocated to each hotel.â â Prudence Lui
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
Since Hyatt first introduced sustainability in meetings across hotels in Asia, it has seen this commitment growing in importance and relevance. In the initial stage, the concept was to engage Hyatt hotels around the region to create custom opportunities for clients interested in hosting green meetings. For instance, Grand Hyatt Singapore encourages guests and planners to make green choices for their meetings through its Meet and Be Green programme.
Senior vice president for brand and commercial strategy, Asia Pacific, Carina Chorengel, said: âThese initiatives become part of a larger sustainability effort that goes beyond green meetings and events, and is integrated into our global operations. Our current 2020 vision includes a set of measurable and actionable goals across three focus areas, namely using precious natural resources wisely, building smarter and greener hotels to meet the challenges of tomorrow, and inspiring innovation among our colleagues, suppliers and other stakeholders to develop more sustainable ways of doing business, today and in the future.â
She added: âCurrently, we integrate sustainability into our daily hotel operations. Our efforts involve everyone from meeting delegates, associates and guests, to hotel owners as they all play a key role in these efforts.â
Hyattâs internal drive for sustainability saw it removing shark fins from its event menus in 2012. By 2014, it established a complete ban on the item in all its restaurants and F&B outlets worldwide.
Meetings are also able to reduce their carbon footprint before they even begin, thanks to Hyatt hotelâs use of LED lighting, sustainable menus, recycling practices and reusable materials.
Participating Hyatt hotels around the region are also able to provide clients with an estimated carbon footprint of their meetings using the Hotel Carbon Management Initiative. â Prudence Lui
AccorHotels has made 21 commitments to sustainable development under its Planet 21 programme. These commitments include establishing 30 per cent less food waste, 100 per cent low-carbon new buildings and renovations for its owned and leased properties, and 1,000 urban vegetable gardens in its hotels, among others â all by 2020.
And under the guidance of Planet 21, AccorHotels is currently rolling out sustainable seminar packages under the Meeting 21 brand.
Gaynor Reid, AccorHotels vice president communications, Asia-Pacific, explained: âThe Meeting 21 standard covers our offerings from amenities, equipment, furniture and floor coverings in meeting rooms to F&B packaging and menu.â
What this means is, meeting attendees at AccorHotels properties can expect to see more recycling bins, LED lighting and locally sourced furnishings being used in meeting rooms, and sustainable food options on the event menu, for instance.
Reid added that âsustainable experiences for participantsâ will also be available. Such experiences could be teambuilding programmes or group activities that are related to nature or the local community.
In Bangkok, seven hotels under AccorHotels came together in 2012 to start the Food for Thought initiative that collects unconsumed food at the hotels and transform them into nutritious dinners for people under the care of Fatima Centre.
âUnconsumed food from events (held at the hotels) are also donated towards this cause,â Reid said.
At Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay, meeting delegates get a stationery set that comprises of eco-pens which are made out of recycled paper by the Yayasan Peduli Tunas Bangsa foundation in Indonesia, established by the hotel giant to alleviate poverty by providing maximum education to underprivileged children while protecting the environment.
At the same time, AccorHotels provides the Carbon Optimizer, a tool that enables guests to measure and reduce their meetingsâ environmental footprint and offers suggestions on what can be done to offset that impact.
However, Reid is cautious about projecting the results of Meeting 21, saying that the programme is optional for hotels and that it is still in its infancy.
Still, she said the company is âoptimistic that (Meeting 21) will make a difference in the long runâ. â Michael Mackey
Onyx Hospitality Group
Onyx Hospitality Group has a green meetings programme that is executed by its two properties in Thailand â Amari Watergate Bangkok and Amari Ocean Pattaya.
According to David Barrett, executive director of events, Amari Watergate Bangkok and Amari Pattaya, the Green Meetings Package allows âour MICE activities and delegates to become a part of our commitment to corporate responsibility while meeting our business objectivesâ.
Barrett pointed out that meetings create a âsizeable carbon footprintâ, so the hotelsâ Green Meetings Package âis the first step to reducing such negative impact on the environmentâ.
In line with the Green Meetings Package, meeting rooms in participating hotels are set up in a sustainable manner. Drinking water and stationery are supplied in a communal style to conserve resources,Â rooms use natural light and energy efficient equipment, coffee beans used for coffee service are sourced from certified producers, and set lunch is prepared with locally sourced produce.
In addition, through a partnership with Trees Trust (Asia), one tree will be planted for each delegate at an event held at the hotels. Delegates will receive photos of the tree being planted as well as regular photo updates to instil a long-term interest in the activity.
âWe anticipate our Green Meetings Package will reduce the carbon footprint of a full-day or half-day meeting by 20 per cent,â said Barrett, although he admitted that âgreen meetings remain a niche segment, as most clients are driven by price and not environmental savingsâ. â Michael Mackey
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group hotels worldwide follow a sustainability policy that is built on three pillars: Think Planet â minimising its environmental footprint; Think People â taking care of the health and safety of guests and employees; Think Community â community action and business ethics.
In keeping its Think People promise, Carlson Rezidor hotels work on reducing their environmental footprint by certifying the hotel building, eco-labelling hotel operations, making specific Think Planet investments, and engaging staff and guests.
Inge Huijbrechts, vice president responsible business, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, told TTGmice: âIn EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) Think Planet activities have reduced our hotelsâ energy consumption by 22 per cent over the last four years, and in APAC (Asia-Pacific) the Earthcheck eco-label of our properties has reduced energy by 23 per cent.â
âThis significantly reduced energy consumption in the hotels lowers the carbon footprint of the meeting for the corporate client,â she added.
Besides the companyâs internal sustainability drive, meeting planners who are members of the Club Carlson for Planners loyalty programme can utilise the Meeting Minus Carbon carbon offsetting service. The free service uses the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative to calculate an eventâs carbon footprint and Club Carlson will then purchase carbon credits to offset the impact. The service is managed by Carbon Footprint, which purchases and invests carbon credits in projects in India, Brazil and Kenya.
Huijbrechts said Carlson Rezidorâs sustainability programme for meetings stands out in the marketplace because each tonne of carbon generated is offset twice. She explained: âOnce in Verified Carbon Standard wind energy projects in India, and again in a REDD certified (Reducing Emissions from Avoiding Planned Deforestation) forest conservation project in Brazil or in a tree-planting initiative in Kenya.â
Furthermore, Meeting Minus Carbon is âthe only programme to consistently offset the meetings and events carbon footprint for all Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwideâ, and its âreforestation and forest protection projects have a considerable local community benefitâ.
Huijbrechts described the adoption of Meeting Minus Carbon as being âfantasticâ, having offset 35,000 tons of carbon since its launch on Earth Day 2013.
âIn addition, the Blu Planet towel reuse programme at Radisson Blu Hotels (one of the hotel brands in the Carlson Rezidor family) has helped to provide safe drinking water for life to over 5,000 children in just one year since its launch. Since we have introduced the connection to community water projects, the towel reuse take-up by stayover guests has increased on average from 20 per cent to 40,â she added.
Hotel brands under the Carlson Rezidor group take the green commitment further by weaving sustainable practices into their own meeting offerings.
Huijbrechts shared that an essential part of a responsible and sustainable meeting lies in the F&B offering.
One of the two features under Radisson Bluâs Experience Meetings concept is Brain Food which follows six principles including the use of primarily fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and pure ingredients with minimal industrial processing which therefore have minimal impact on the environment.
Park Inn by Radissonâs Smart Food makes using local ingredients a priority.
Radisson RED adopts a No Food Waste policy and abides by it by pricing breakfast by the item to encourage guests to take only whatâs needed, providing RED merchandised containers to regulars to reduce waste, using only disposables that are made of responsible materials, and finding ingenious ways to incorporate misshapen fruits and veggies in its dishes.
Huijbrechts observed that large corporations with their own sustainability programmes tend to be more interested in Carlson Rezidorâs Responsible Business features in general and Think Planet activities at the hotels.
She said: âA number of key corporate clients â mainly in the Nordics and North America â want to have a detailed follow-up of the carbon footprint of their stays and events in Carlson Rezidor hotels. We provide this information based on the Hotel
Carbon Measurement Initiative tool and discuss with clients how we can help them further reduce their footprint by staying and meeting at our hotels.â
â Karen Yue