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Green Meeting Industry Council
700 N. Fairfax Street, Suite 510
Alexandria, VA 22314

Destination Spotlight - November 2012
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Destination Spotlight

Get to know our member destinations. Every month we profile a different destination who helps to make the GMIC community so unique.
 
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Destination: Portland, Oregon, USA
"Travel the world and meet find out more about what makes for a more sustainable meeting destination."

How do you communicate your city’s sustainability commitment to meeting organizers?
Travel Portland communicates our sustainability commitment through several channels. First, Travel Portland was one of the first convention bureaus in the nation to create a media relations position that focuses exclusively on promoting a region by highlighting its green and eco-friendly attributes. Since April 2008, Communication & Public Relations Manager, Sustainability Laura Guimond has worked with regional, national and international media to promote Portland as a leisure travel and meetings destination.

Second, we communicate our sustainable commitment in all customer correspondence, whether through print, electronic or social media.

Lastly, we are active members of GMIC and value our partnership with this organization.

How does this support your ability to attract meetings into your area?
Having a consistent and constant sustainable message that begins with Travel Portland and is resonated by our convention center, hotel partners, transportation companies, DMCs, airport and restaurants has created interest for conference planners seeking a green destination. Portland has the infrastructure in place to make planning green meetings easy without additional effort on the part of the planner. The information is easily accessible via the Web, social media and trade publications.

What sustainable attribute are you most proud of within your city and sets your city apart from other cities?

The sustainable attribute that makes our team proud and helps set Portland apart is the people! Most Portlanders are proud of the city they live in and embrace the sustainable DNA of Portland. It just takes one chef, or one general manager, to create a fast-moving sustainable ripple effect on the operation of a business. We’ve see it time and time again with our hospitality partners in the Portland region.

How does your CVB/City support sustainable events (minimizing negative impacts and maximizing positive contributions in the local community) to help event organizers?

Describe the sustainable transportation options available in your city for event organizers? (for example, bicycling options, light rail, walkable convention zone)
Portland offers a variety of options to make getting around our city easy. Portland's short blocks (only 200 feet) make our city walkable and bike-friendly. Our public transportation system offers affordable MAX light rail transportation from the airport to the convention center and downtown core and hotels in these areas. The Portland Streetcar allows visitors to experience the restaurants, bars, breweries and boutiques in the unique neighborhoods of Portland.

What solutions do you provide to help event organizers with waste diversion (venue recycling, composting, donation programs, etc.)?
The solutions for waste diversion in our city ultimately fall to the many venues in our city which take great pride in their waste diversion ratios. Travel Portland’s role is to connect the planner with the hotels and venues in our city that make waste diversion a regular practice.

How do you support local community organizations and facility CSR project support for event organizers?
Every year at Travel Portland we have a team-building day that involves volunteering with a local organization to help improve parks or wetlands. Time might be spent planting trees, eliminating invasive plant species or maintaining trails.

For event organizers, we can provide a list of local charities or organizations that work with large groups, or connect planners with companies that can orchestrate a CSR event.

How do you support local food or other procurement sourcing options for event organizers?
Supporting local food or procurement sourcing options for event organizers is much like the waste diversion question. Travel Portland’s role is to connect the planner with our many partners in the city that make this a regular practice.

Does your bureau or major convention center have a green team?
Both the Oregon Convention Center and Travel Portland have active green teams. The teams are comprised of staff from each department, and meet monthly to ensure our sustainability efforts are advancing both within our companies and our industry.

Do you provide educational training programs for your region (venues, etc.) about sustainable best practice? If so, in what format? Do you profile and/or promote sustainable hospitality partners?
The Travel Portland green team is responsible for planning two sustainability-focused partner events a year. These events have been held at newly opened LEED buildings and showcase the advances in sustainability our partners in the hospitality industry are making. These are typically networking events, sometimes with a presenter and other times with interactive exhibits.

Describe the most impactful sustainable event experience/customer experience supported by your CVB?
One very successful team-building CSR event that we helped organize was a bike-building event that benefitted local underprivileged children who did not have bicycles. The theme fit in perfectly with the conference and the city. We worked with Run Brain Run (organizers) and Bike Gallery (helped sponsor bikes and equipment) to put together the event.

The attendees were split into teams and worked together to assemble a bike by solving clues. After the bikes were assembled, children from the local Boys and Girls Club entered the room to receive their new bikes. The children did not know they were receiving the bikes and the participants did not know the children would be there to receive them. It was a really successful, memorable and fun event.

What advice would you provide to other CVB professionals seeking to head down the sustainable event pathway?
The best advice we can give to other CVBs is to commit to starting your sustainability journey today. Begin with your own office, seek the support of upper management, align with like-minded partners, and the momentum will build. From there, find the resources and partners in your city that are practicing sustainability and keep a running list. There is a business case for sustainability and planners are seeking destinations and venues that can host their green conferences and events.

When an event organizer comes to your city for a site inspection, what is your favorite sustainable activity, attribute, location or experience that you like to share with them?
There are many sustainable activities and experiences we incorporate into site tours in our city. Some of our all-time favorites are: Going to the farmers’ market, purchasing foods from a provided grocery list and returning them to a chef to prepare our meal; the Junk to Funk Recycled Fashion Show; and riding six-person surrey bicycles from a hotel to the convention center.

What do you need from the industry to continue to advance in the realm of sustainability?
I think many of the resources that are currently coming out around the standards, measurement tools, etc. will provide folks in the industry with some helpful structure and greater consistency. Beyond that, I think just continuing to provide the opportunities for folks to get together, have in-depth conversations about a variety of sustainability topics, and share experiences and best practices is extraordinarily helpful.