ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.
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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ A P R I L 2 0 1 6 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 14 CORPORATE MEETINGS The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and going green at events is no longer a novelty for corporate meetings. According to Jan Levine, president of JSL Meeting and Event Group, CSR is now "a way of life … not just a cool buzzword you put on your website." The DoubleTree Little Rock team takes CSR very seriously, according to Corporate Sales Man- ager Vesna Foster, and is actively engaged in the community through the DoubleTree CARE program. "We have seen an increase through RFPs that focus on our stance with recycling and use of environmentally friendly products," she pointed out. "As part of the Hilton brand, the DoubleTree Little Rock participates in Hilton's LightStay program which tracks energy usage, allows action planning to reduce our carbon footprint and highlights the hotel's community involvement." Tom LaVaccare, CHME, director of sales and marketing at the Ellis Hotel in Atlanta, noted that more attention is certainly being paid to CSR and since the Ellis Hotel is a Green Seal property and focused on green meetings, the property naturally attracts like-minded corporations. One trend he is witnessing increasingly is the desire to blend community service with meetings. "On social responsibility, we have seen about a quarter of our groups perform a service proj- ect in the local community as a team-building exercise," he noted. Levine is seeing similar trends. For example, at a recent corporate incen- tive meeting, a dinner was hosted at an outdoor venue on a cool night. Blankets were provided to attendees and later donated to a local domestic violence shelter. Levine has also worked in conjunction with the Foundation for Hospital Art to design team-bonding events at corporate meetings that engage a community service project. Participants paint pre-drawn, color-coded de- signs and the completed artwork is then donated to needy health facilities on behalf of sponsors. In the end, "it's about us being more responsible as human beings," Levine said. n CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY A MAINSTREAM NOTION FOR MEETINGS "CSR is now a way of life… not just a cool buzzword you put on your website." The Ellis Hotel, a boutique property in Atlanta, offers upscale amenities for corporate groups. so meetings stretch beyond the hotel to other local venues." Jan Levine, president of JSL Meeting and Event Group, agreed, emphasizing that there will always be a platform to support corporate meetings because "face-to-face is absolutely necessary for building relationships." While these realities are good news for the meetings industry, industry professionals ac- knowledge that today's corporate meetings come with new challenges – and the name of the game is value. "We are seeing shorter lead times to book and not necessarily any increase in budget," Levine said. "But we are still tasked with delivering that 'wow' experience." Tom LaVaccare, CHME, director of sales and marketing at the Ellis Hotel in Atlanta, noted that some groups are addressing value not by ex- pecting more for less but by decreasing the time- frame for meetings while maintaining food and beverage budgets. "It seems that corporations are spending more heavily on food and beverage and A/V than in the past and shortening up ► The Foundation for Hospital Art arranges team-bonding events at corporate meetings that engage a community service project. JSL Meeting & Event Group Photos courtesy of Ellis Hotel