Prevue asked Tammi Runzler, Senior VP of Convention Sales/Services, Visit Orlando, for her thoughts on Green Meetings trends in 2012.
Q: Is there a growing demand from planners for more healthy/green venues and experiences?
A: Yes, we have seen this demand increasing for quite some time. I would say that it is quite normal now for meeting professionals to request green options for their meetings. Planners are very interested in sustainability throughout their programs, and are looking for ways to increase their green initiatives at this point.
Q: What are some popular outdoor/eco group activities?
A: We are lucky that Orlando has an abundance of outdoor activities for attendees to explore as a group outing. Forever Florida offers open-air eco-safaris of cattle ranches that are home to many native species, and also includes horseback adventure safaris to accommodate riders of all skill levels.A group outing to the Scenic Boat Tour in Winter Park is a must-do outdoor experience. Attendees actually ride on an 18-passenger pontoon boat through the Winter Park chain of lakes. It’s relaxing and also educational—the lakes and the estate homes that populate its shores share a rich history. You’ll also have a chance to observe native Florida wildlife in its natural habitat, like alligators and cranes.Additionally, Grande Lakes Outfitters’ eco-tours provides guided canoe or kayak tours where attendees can learn about the history of Shingle Creek and observe native species such as alligators or bald eagles in their habitat.
Q: How can planners make sustainability more exciting?
A: Involve the attendees in the process. Let them know in advance what the organization is doing to introduce sustainability throughout the program—why it is important and how they can participate. And update the attendees throughout the program as to the impact the sustainability initiatives are having, like the percentage of materials that are being recycled or composted. The more engaged the participants are, the more successful the program will be.
Q: Are there any cultural venues that promote eco-awareness?
A: SeaWorld Orlando does an incredible job with animal conservation and eco-awareness of the planet in general. The work they do with endangered species is amazing. The theme park’s behind-the-scenes programs can greatly enhance any meeting experience, and they are willing to work with planners to fully customize their experiences.
Q: What are some CSR activities popular with attendees?
A: Groups are looking for unique ways to get their attendees involved. We always encourage groups to find a cause that connects emotionally with your attendees, whether it’s working with animals, the environment or children. We are seeing more groups looking for activities which can be done at the meeting site, and with greater flexibility of when and how the participants can get involved. “CSR lounges” are also becoming very popular; a location where attendees can come together, network and participate in a self-contained volunteer activity.