Sustainable Meetings – a Primer from Starwood Hotels

Building on a commitment to sustainability and conservation initiatives, Starwood Hotels & Resorts has introduced sustainable-meeting guidelines at every North American property.

Starwood’s Sustainable Meeting Practices (SMP) will also roll out globally in 2011. The program revolves around five core components: Paperless Meeting Planning, Sustainable Meeting Services, Sustainable Food & Beverage Practices, Impact Assessment Tools, and Socially Conscious Activities.

Starwood operates 1,000 properties worldwide, and expects to open another 80 hotels over the next year. “Rolling this program out across North America formalizes environmental practices our hotels have been implementing and we are excited to encourage,” said Sandy Swider, Starwood’s Vice President for Global Citizenship. “Clients who rely on Starwood properties for great meetings also appreciate that they become our partner in sustainability and environmental stewardship by cutting waste and conserving resources.”

Starwood’s iconic hospitality brands include St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM.

The program’s five core components include 18 practices – from sustainable menu choices and bottled water alternatives to energy-efficient digital signage and potted plants in place of fresh-cut flowers – to be incorporated into all on-property meetings and events. Each component is designed to enhance meetings and all 18 practices were carefully conceived to remain cost-effective and operationally efficient.

Starwood has also launched the Meeting Impact Report, an internal online tool that generates a report for clients that demonstrates the impact of their meetings on the environment.

As meeting and business travel rebounds throughout 2010, Starwood is seeing increased demand for sustainable meeting solutions, Swider said. “There’s already a strong sensitivity toward sustainability concerns from meeting planners, and they appreciate the programs we’ve put in place,” Swider said. “We think the next generation of meeting planners and attendees will simply expect green practices and sustainability initiatives as a given for meetings and facilities.”

Championed by Starwood’s internal Global Citizenship team instated by CEO Frits van Paasschen in 2009, Starwood is committed to delivering tangible improvements to the company’s environmental, social and business performance.

“Developing Sustainable Meeting Practices was a year-long process to determine how to meaningfully incorporate sustainability into our meeting practices while maintaining a superior guest experience and keeping costs low for hotels, meeting planners and clients,” said David Dvorak, Vice President of Catering and Convention Services for Starwood. “We are proud of the progress we have made to date – but there is still more to come with additional Core Components and a global roll-out. As an overall Starwood mission, we will continue to provide sustainable resources and practices to our guests, owners and associates throughout our portfolio and corporate offices.”

Related Link: Starwood Sustainable Meeting Practices

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