How to Maximize Your Staff's Conference Participation

By Susan Tinnish Advisory Group Chair, Vistage | February 22, 2015

Hotels today scrutinize every expense - including educational conferences, workshops, webinars and educational meetings. Before sending a person to an industry/educational event (hereafter referred to as a conference), management wants to understand the organizational benefit. The benefit or return on investment (ROI) can take many forms including:

1. Accessing the Latest and Newest Information – At conferences, thought leaders speak about current trends and new products and information. This allows employees to reconsider or view their work or processes differently.

2. Developing Professionally – Conference attendance allows employees to access specific kinds of training or growth opportunities needed.

3. Learning from Luminaries – Whether industry experts or acclaimed authorities, conferences afford access to thought leadership (Marus, 2013).

4. Tactical Brainstorming – Conferences provide access to many different ideas; even when a specific idea does not apply it can trigger a creative spark. Fishkin describes conferences as "a brainstorming paradise and a terrific opportunity for new ideas to come bubbling to the surface."

5. Increasing Motivation – Attending a conference can inject a new energy into an employee (Pavlina, n.d.).

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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.