Green Meeting in Hotel Industry Moving towards Sustainable Development

Amandeep1 Assistant Professor, Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, Central University of Haryana.
Dr. Dilbag Singh2 Assistant Professor, Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, Central University of Haryana


Green meetings save the environment and also help an organization to save money and contribute to their Corporate Social Responsibility activities. Everyone has been watching and listening how every event or organization is striving to go eco-friendly, some even market their initiatives and special activities which help them save the environment and reduce the carbon footprint, but how much do we know about going green and what exactly counts to be green or eco-friendly? Meetings and business tourism is increasing than ever, and negative environmental impacts of associated events can be significant. The hotel or hospitality industry has also come up with green meeting initiatives which strive in the direction to save our environment and produce the least amount of waste which has been an emerging problem in terms of food, accommodation, energy, water, etc. Many hotels have benefited from green management in ways such as enhanced reputation of the firm and an increase in loyal customers. This review paper aims at understanding the importance of implementing sustainable and green practices in the meeting of hotel and hospitality industries. The findings and review of data discussed in this paper, may generate ideas and prove to be beneficial by implementing of such green practices in hotels which they could consider in near future to be a part of a greener, more sustainable Industry.


Sustainability, green meetings, conferences and conventions, business events.


During the last few decades, the increase in pollution and hazardous waste produced by various manufacturing and services industries have seen a rise, contributing to the increased carbon footprint. There is a need for more sustainable business environment by many industry sectors, and the meeting industry is no exception. The hotel industry is a large business sector catering to the meeting industry, which means hotels can play a vital role in changing the present practices being followed in order to achieve sustainable growth by adapting to a changing, more environmentally aware working culture to implement green practices and initiatives.
According to Events Industry Council, “A green meeting or event incorporates environmental considerations to minimize its negative impact on the environment” [1]. Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present generations without compromising the aptitude of the future generations [2]. Green meetings mean making healthier, safer, less wasteful and less damaging event by implementing eco-friendly practices and by controlling the use of natural resources. These eco-friendly meetings are usually held with the aim of leaving a positive impact on the environment and community. Greening the meetings is a way of doing things that take the present and the future into account by applying sustainable and environmental practices. Eco-friendly practices of green meetings mainly include reducing waste, reusing, recycling, conserving energy and providing water efficiency. Holding a green meeting can help an organization to institute environmental protection measures more broadly, thereby obtaining even greater financial benefits. Along with the positive environmental benefits, greening the meetings can be a good way of saving money for meeting organizers as well [3]. A meeting can be converted into a green with basic sustainable practices which may be related to saving of energy, use of local sourced materials, and highly optimised use of resources such as paper, water and food. Effect on environment starts when a person starts planning for a meeting. From his travel, accommodation, mode of transport opted, food he might be served and other supplies matter and contribute to environmental pollution and waste. The tourism and hotel industry have been always quick in responding to the needs of the customers as well as the environment and such can be seen with the adoption of various green initiatives by the industry by certifying and following sustainable practices recommended by green councils and certification organisations such as LEED, ECOTEL, ISO 14000 certification and many more. Now by targeting an essential part of organisation of meetings and finding ways to make it greener the hotels can further take the sustainability to next level which is not only appreciated by the new age customers and travellers but also making an impact on environment worthy. Being a new concept which is just at primary stage there is a need to spread and inform the mass about the concept and literate them about the same so to achieve more adaptation rate by prevailing and upcoming tourist and meeting destinations around the world. There is a myth that considering green practices generates higher costs due to the green products and the requirements, which needs to be put light on and bring awareness about the benefits it brings along, such as positive word of mouth, branding, and corporate social responsibility which would be additional key factors not only in eco-awareness but also in marketing strategies. Accordingly, this paper will try to explore and identify the various areas and steps of going green through meetings.


Barbara Obritzhauser 2011, stated in his research that while conducting a green meeting the main initiatives undertaken were in the F&B and waste management areas of a meeting by serving jugged iced water, using local suppliers, composting food waste and using different purpose recycle bins which may separate paper and plastic waste. To spread awareness and see better results the organisers also distributed pamphlets mentioning ways by which each individual can make a difference and also provided an estimation calculator to count the carbon footprint they make and can save through different activities. The hotels or meeting places also follow sustainable building design for the venue to minimise waste and reduce consumption of non-renewable resources by using water saving faucets, LED lightning and solar water heating sources [4].

Amandeep (2017)  highlighted that using green practices the businesses not only benefits the environment but also save on cost in long run by promoting their business apart from the competition, by adopting sustainable practices one can also improve the sustainability of business too. When one is less dependent on natural resources than competition and have ways to deal with the rising cost due to climate change or scarcity, the business will have greater chance of long term success [5].
Green Meeting Industry Council and the International Standards Organization ASTM International, have developed “Green Meeting Standards which can be classified into nine major areas namely [6, 7]

1) Accommodation: Hotels, motels, as well as bed and breakfasts, hostels, or other facilities.
2) Audio-Visual: Including sound, lighting, and staging at meetings.
3) Communications: Event communications, programmes, and promotional materials, including name badges and conference bags, etc.
4) Destinations: Any city or area supporting meetings, including aspects such as municipal recycling, etc.
5) Exhibits: The practices of the general service contractors who set up the shows.
6) Food and Beverage: Related to the restaurants, hotel, or independent caterers serving food and beverages.
7) Meeting Venue: Any facility hosting a meeting.
8) On-Site Office: Practices of an organization related to the meeting while setting up and executing during the event.
9) Transportation: Participant and staff travel.

Green Meeting in Hotel Industry Moving towards Sustainable Development

Source: Greenbiz Website [6]

Mair and Jago (2010) in their study proposed a model to understand how some business events operators are willing to invest in sustainable practices and facilities. They found number of internal and external drivers such as the presence of a Corporate Social Responsibility policy, a desire for image enhancement, perceived competitive advantage, and customer demand. They suggested that ‘green’ or sustainability will become a hygiene factor, which will simply become expectation from organisers and participants. [9]

L. Ranacher & U. Pröbstl-Haider (2014) in their research concluded that if meeting venue have some kind of ecocertification of green meetings it is perceived positive feature. Creation of green meetings is considered to be dependent on the organiser’s sense of environmental responsibility, as it’s influenced by personal, sociocultural and situational factors. [11]

According to Bongkosh Rittichainuwat & Judith Mair (2012) research results it indicate that the people attending the green meetings were most likely to agree to staying in the same hotel where meeting is held, saving transportation effect on environment and being served with local food instead of importing meats/veggies/fruits. They were also happy to minimise the wastage of food resonating the mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle. These findings suggests that organisers should be aware of these options and can freely go ahead to implement and contribute towards greening of meeting industry. [12]

Chiou, Shin Yi (2011) said green meeting trends have a strong commitment to conferences, trade shows, meetings in the hospitality industry these days. With the available technological advancements, the hospitality industry could easily meet the need to reduce, reuse and recycle the products generated for meetings and also cut down the cost of organising. Along with financial benefits its other benefits such as moral, ethical and social responsibility are worth relishing. Green belief and philosophy should be viewed to minimize the potential negative impact on environment and nature. Green meetings can infuse sustainable developments into environment, education and community creating a win-win relation between commercial activities and environment. [15]

United Nation Environment Programme in their Green Meeting Guide 2009  provide us with some key instruments for success which in combination helps to achieve good results in organising a green meeting which are:

·         Decision-making: It needs to be made sure that throughout the planning phase sustainability is considered at each stage and it’s ensured that the location and local providers can compliance with the green criteria. It is also important that the top management supports the initiative.

·         Awareness: To motivate the staff and service providers and the participants it is very crucial to make them aware of the green aspects in proper lead time so they can understand the importance and act accordingly.

·         Access to sustainable products and services: One needs to make sure that sustainable products and services are readily available for use which in turn increases the potential success and once they are accepted these products and services will automatically generate demand beyond meetings too.

·         Communication: The effect of proper communication is very important for lasting legacy so all aspects of the greening must be communicated with the participants making them proud of their achievements and results by contributing in the same.

·         Measurement: Calculating the environmental footprints and measuring achievements of the meetings will build reliability and prove the effectiveness of the meeting which will be useful in future meetings and can be further improved. It will also provide case study for other organisers and for communicating purposes.

·         Procurement: The consumption decisions can have a major environmental implications, those who are responsible for the procurement of catering services, paper, printing etc. need to understand the impacts of wastage and purchases must be made in accordance to minimise wastage.

Source: Reducing environmental impacts, UNEP Green Meeting Guide 2009. [8]
Environmental target
Reduce energy use, and the
resulting greenhouse gas
·         Select venues and accommodation that implement energy efficiency measures, comply with green building standards and/or use renewable energy sources.
·         Choose location and venue minimising local and long distance transportation needs for participants and products.
·         Where long-distance travel is unavoidable, offset GHG emissions.
·         Apply energy-saving office practices during the organisation and hosting of the meeting.
Reduce materials consumption
and waste generation
·         Minimise materials provided to participants and used by service providers (e.g. caterer), before, during and after the meeting.
·         Avoid the use of disposable items, use pre-used/recycled and reusable/recyclable products and reduce packaging needs to a minimum.
·         Separate and recycle waste where possible
Reduce water use
·         Select venues and accommodation that implement water conservation practices and use water efficient appliances.
·         Minimise the distribution of bottled water to participants where possible.
Reduce indirect environmental
impacts to air, water and soil
·         Minimise the need to transport food and other products and prefer local organic food.
·         Use products manufactured with or containing fewer harmful substances, such as chlorine-free paper or nontoxic cleaning products


The Objective of the study is to make the people aware about the concept of Green Meetings, its impact and the potential for the sustainable practices for the environment. Since most of the key factors in the research are subjective it will be very difficult to interpret through quantitative approach so a qualitative approach is suitable. Taking into account the nature of the study, it has been decided that the best strategy to implement the exploratory method or research with the help of existing available literature and the organizations working in the same field. The study will be very helpful for the practitioners to work in the field of green meetings and make a positive change in the growth of environment.


It have been observe with the help of literature review that the main need to time is to make the stakeholders aware about the various applications and benefits of green meetings before every event/meeting etc. After the completion of the meetings proper evaluation or the total saving should be counted so that the participants and the stakeholders can came to know about the benefits of green meetings. In the modern Era the concepts such as Corporate Social Responsibility, green meetings is a very effective channel to attract more and more business. The hotels should make their practices in such a way, so that they step towards the sustainable development of the environment. Hotels can reduce the wastage by adopting the green practices. In addition to make these practices reachable such societies on government level should be constructed. This type of concepts helps the stakeholders to build a strong image in the market and also helps them to attract more investors in the particular field. In other words we can say that Green Meetings is such a effective tool to retain more and more customers as well to develop the sustainable environment practices.


Finally, we would suggest that there is a need for the industry as a whole to share what they have learned and spread the importance of adopting sustainable practices. In today’s era organisations are judged on the ethics and there social accountability. As people’s awareness increases according global warming and climate change the customers and stake holders would expect the industry to also direct themselves towards sustainable practices. There is an urgent need for the top management and decision makers to show their interest towards the greening of meetings and overcome together the cost issue, but that is only possible when more detailed understanding and facts are presented to them regarding the benefits in long term as ever since the ultimate goal of executing meetings have been to actually generate profits.


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