The Gifts That Keep on Giving All Career Long

By Lynn McCullough Director of Meetings & Association Management, CMA Association Management | May 06, 2010

As the holidays approach and another year comes to a close, it's only natural to reflect on what we have, or maybe more appropriately, what we have received. In the business arena, careers are enriched and rewarded in a variety of ways. For those of us in the hospitality industry, a person's successful career path is not enhanced and bolstered in a vacuum. Rather, it is a product of knowledge mixed with many varied and diverse relationships. For the Convention Services Manager (CSM), a convention bureau, hotel, convention center, or arena/special facility employee, one's career growth can be stunted without the receipt of a few "gifts." For those who have found ACOM (Association for Convention Operations Management), these gifts just keep on giving. Since its "The Season," consider the following gifts that organizations, like ACOM, provide 365 days a year:

Sharing Creative Ideas

There are many different kinds of meeting planners and hotel executives, but the cream of the crop are those who go above and beyond the call of duty to do their jobs with creativity. Getting together with your peers through organized events within the industry affords great opportunities to learn what your peers have done recently to really wow their clients. Beverley Totten, Vice President of Services & Membership at the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, says she and her colleagues try to show visitors a city exclusive; an up-close and personal look they might not have explored on their own. "We have arranged for private dinner parties underneath the Gateway Arch for a few different groups that allowed for a real one-of-a-kind experience," says Totten. "Guests can even ride up to the top of the Arch during this event. Rather than the traditional sight-seeing tour, we have been able to arrange events with a creative twist to really enhance the guests' perception of the city."

ACOM members share ideas on how to make a lasting impression on a regular basis through conferences, educational Webinars and Lunch & Learn sessions. Some members recently shared details on pulling out all the stops by taking prospects on helicopter tours of their city. Being able to network with some of the best creative minds in the business, members benefit from being active in their professional community.

Training

Who knew learning could be so much fun? The gift of learning through training sessions and educational workshops helps drive the industry's incentive to achieve and keeps us motivated. Like many industry organizations, ACOM offers an array of different ways for professionals in the hospitality industry to continue their education. Other than the educational sessions and speeches at the Annual Conference, ACOM members participate in Lunch & Learns and Webinars from the comfort of their own offices. Through these training methods, members are able to gain perspective to better understand our clients.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.