Incorporating Sustainable Tourism into Your Meetings Marketing Practices

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<span>Incorporating Sustainable Tourism into Your Meetings Marketing Practices</span>

By: Mya Surrency, Digital Edge

Sustainability is a leading topic among meetings and convention planners and one that will have a long shelf life within destinations. Becoming a more sustainable industry is a long-term goal to combat overtourism and the negative impacts of travel on the environment and our communities.

During the 2022 Destinations International Annual Convention, Mya Surrency, Co-Founder of Digital Edge, shared three case studies on three different destinations' approaches to sustainability for meetings and conventions.

Visit Park City Case Study

Through the work of new CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff, Visit Park City is making great strides in this area as having just passed the community’s first-ever Sustainable Tourism Master Plan.  Jennifer said, "Sustainable Tourism is about creating connections:  locals to visitors & the visitor economy, visitors to the authentic culture of a place, visitors to the land and values of the community.”

Visit Park City understands that focusing on the group market is in and of itself a sustainable tourism tactic as it disperses seasonality, drives Sunday to Thursday business and manages groups in a community.  The group market is a focused way to influence the behavior of planners, attendees and businesses for a destination.  Meeting planners are very conscious of a group’s transit needs, electric transit, walkability, single-use plastics, local activities, local speakers and knowledge economy, and volunteer give-back days/voluntourism – all of which are sustainable tourism practices. 

In 2018 Digital Edge, Visit Park City’s meetings marketing agency, crafted a Sustainability whitepaper that shared the benefits of going green, a premier list of green properties, and the importance of heritage and culture to sustainable tourism. 

The whitepaper also included:

  • Market award winners
  • Green businesses
  • Content for green activities
  • Farm-to-table options
  • Local wine/ distilleries/breweries
  • Tips on how to source locally / keep logistics nearby / swag properly

In addition to publishing the whitepaper on the Visit Park City website, Digital Edge used a strategic content marketing approach to position the guide to targeted meeting planners with social media-sponsored posts, email marketing strategies and targeted trade media opportunities.

Park City has set North America’s most ambitious climate goals - to be net-zero carbon and run on 100% renewable electricity for city operations by 2022 and the whole community by 2030. It is truly a community-wide focus and one on which the convention and visitors bureau is focused.

Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau

What Hoʻomaluō Means to Us

Conservation is an important part of Hawaii’s kuleana (responsibility) to everyone the Hawaii VCB and Convention Center serve. From the very foundation of the convention center building design to the corporate guidance of ASM Global, Hawaii works throughout its operations to be responsible stewards of the islands.

With Hawaii, sustaining the environment and culture for tomorrow has been of incredible importance.  The Meet Hawaii and Convention center teams have created tremendous programs to offer meetings and conventions. 

The convention center developed a first-of-its-kind program that provides carbon offset opportunities for all meetings and events held at the Center. This new initiative is an expansion of the Center’s One Million Trees program. It allows meeting organizers to offset the carbon footprint of their meetings and offers individual attendees the ability to select and plant endemic and native trees virtually or in person.​

Watch our Video on the Hawaii Convention Center Conservation Program

The convention center partners with the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation initiative and Legacy Carbon – which is dedicated to providing the highest-quality certified carbon offsets in the world  –  to provide locally focused, cost-effective carbon credits. The prestigious Switzerland-based Gold Standard Foundation has certified the program and is the first forestry project in North America to issue Gold Standard Credits. Carbon offsets are generated through the planting of more than 500,000 trees to date in Hawai‘i.

Meet Hawaii includes sustainability messaging and marketing initiatives woven into everything they develop for meetings and conventions.  Digital Edge, as the Hawaii Meetings Marketing Agency, focuses on developing meetings marketing messaging and campaign materials that speak to sustainability practices in a very thoughtful and meaningful way.

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board is well known for being a leader in the environmental and sustainability space.  During LA’s recent Customer Advisory Board meetings, the planners shared that sustainability is a top priority for them & that Los Angeles is a leader in offering solutions from which groups can really benefit.

Los Angeles offers opportunities for groups to reduce their water usage, incorporate recycling and composting, reduce their energy usage with wind and solar power and reduce the carbon footprint from the meetings.

The Mayor of Los Angeles has developed strategic goals for the City’s sustainability.  The goals include moving to have the Convention Center at 90% zero waste this year and, by 2025, 100% zero waste.

Los Angeles Tourism is working to develop more detailed evergreen content that clearly outlines how groups can benefit from choosing LA. In addition, they are developing video content, which is the top form of consumption for planners to learn more about these efforts. Digital Edge is helping LA create a communication plan for the sustainability options, messaging to share with planners, and a content strategy for the website and videos to be developed. This strategy will launch in early 2023, updating the information for LA and ensuring it positions the destination as a leader in this area.

It is evident that sustainability is a topic with staying power and that destinations must differentiate themselves, clearly communicate their goals and options, and educate planners on why choosing their destination is a winning strategy.  

About The Author

Mya Surrency

Digital Edge

Mya Surrency, Co-Founder of Digital Edge, utilizes her background in destination marketing having worked for two Florida destinations and her more than 10 years of agency ownership experience to deliver dynamic meetings marketing strategies and digital marketing techniques to engage planners.  

Mya is an active member of several industry Boards and partnerships including the Meetings Mean Business Board.  Mya shares her insights, ideas and case studies at leading tourism conferences for Destinations International, eTouruism Summit, regional tourism conferences and to her client’s stakeholders.  

When Mya isn’t spending her time with clients and her team, she loves to be competing on the golf course with her husband and friends, spending time with her family and loving on her adorable puppies.

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