Going Green – How IMEX America Showcased the Triple Bottom Line

Nov 12, 2015 9:00 AM ET

From October 12th – October 15th, 2015, over 10,600 attendees representing a total of 3,100 companies from 150 countries attended IMEX America - America’s worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings & events.

The goal of IMEX America is to connect professionals in the incentive, meeting and events industry with key players and generate innovative ideas while also driving business on an international scale.

On October 12th at SmartMonday, I joined Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA and Nancy J. Zavada, CMP, two of the co-authors of Meet Better: 167 Easy Ways to Make Your Events More Environmentally Responsible for an interactive session on ways of improving the triple bottom line of events.

We began the session by looking at a case study of how Time Warner Cable has brought corporate values to life through our sustainability initiatives across the company, including at our events, and how we leverage sustainable events as an important tool for brand activation.

Green Goes with Everything – How Time Warner Cable is Working to Make Events More Sustainable

Following the presentation of Time Warner Cable’s Go Green initiatives, the session got lively as we used gamification tools to brainstormed best practices around sustainability at events together with the audience – and all engaged in a fast-paced and humorous discussion that drew out best practices in a wide range of topics including:

  • Food and beverage planning and service
  • Site selection
  • Waste management
  • Transportation and travel
  • Purchasing practices
  • Onsite management
  • Meeting design
  • Trade shows, fairs and exhibitions
  • Community service projects
  • Sharing your story
  • Sustainability focused sponsorship opportunities
  • Event marketing
  • Sustainability strategy

The full list of our 78 best sustainable meeting and event practices can be found at the bottom of the page.

Beyond our session at SmartMonday, IMEX America implemented a number of sustainability initiatives focused on waste reduction and education. Some of those initiatives included a new charity recycling program, the opportunity to become part of the Green Team and attending relevant education sessions - all of which helped attendees reduce waste and increased their awareness of corporate social responsibility.

The organizers of IMEX America 2015, built sustainability into their planning process as Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group, explained: “IMEX America is committed to encouraging the meetings and incentive travel industry to address sustainability issues and to tackle these issues in a proactive, practical way. The intention is to raise the green bar across the board and strengthen our sustainability efforts.”

Other sustainable initiatives included:

  • The Inspiration Hub – home to all the show floor education, the Inspiration Hub featured a number of sessions exploring various aspects of sustainability. I spoke at the Hub on current CSR trends and their impact on the events industry in my talk, ‘Planning for a revolution: the rise of people, planet and profit’.
  • The Shade Tree – IMEX supported a new initiative at The Shade Tree, a shelter for homeless and abused women and children. IMEX sustainability consultants, MeetGreen®, designed a complete recycling program, Evergreen Shade Tree, which established processes and signage, educated residents and provided recycling bins.
  • Green Team – all buyers and exhibitors were invited to become a part of the team. Green Team members were asked to complete tasks that reduced waste and increased awareness of corporate social responsibility. Members of the IMEX America Green Team received a green ribbon to wear proudly during the show.
  • Badge Back – at the end of the show, buyers and exhibitors were able to place their badge in one of two boxes. Each box represented a local charity – The Shade Tree and Opportunity Village, Nevada’s largest not-for-profit organization providing vocational training, employment and arts-based programs for citizens with intellectual disabilities. For every badge recycled, donations were made.
  • Clean the World – at their booth, attendees could build hygiene kits from recycled toiletries gathered from participating hotels. The kits were then donated to The Shade Tree shelter.

Together we showed that sustainability practices can be easily implemented in a cost efficient manner and through small steps, you can make your events more environmentally and socially responsible. I hope you will join me in this movement.