The business events sector is extremely familiar with the traditional Request for Proposal - the document that sets out a conference planner’s requirements to ensure the potential destination and venue for their event can meet its logistical needs, such as venue capacities, accommodation provision, and social programme options. But what of the requirements that reflect the needs of a responsible conference?
This was the challenge faced by the Guidelines International Network when sourcing a location for its 2023 international conference.
Guidelines International Network CEO, Elaine Harrow, explained: “As an international network, we recognise the importance of the innovation that happens when people get together and interact - this cannot be fully replicated online. Therefore, we wanted to consider how we could support our members by enabling them to meet and maximise human interaction, collaboration and innovation, while minimising our impact on the environment and promoting sustainability.
“We changed our conference model to reflect this. The starting point for our 2023 conference was to look to the Global Destination Sustainability Index of sustainable tourism and conference cities and select several locations from the top 20. We then looked at venues within those locations that could deliver a fully hybrid event and developed full proposals for five venues. The locations were narrowed down to three and in 2022, our Board selected the forerunner, the Technology and Innovation Centre at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.”
The Global Destination Sustainability Index is the leading sustainability benchmarking and improvement programme for tourism and conference destinations around the world. It is used to assess the current social and environmental performance of a destination and to help drive improvement.
Guy Bigwood, Chief Changemaker and CEO, Global Destination Sustainability Movement said: “GDS-Movement salutes Glasgow’s continuous commitment to measuring and managing the sustainability contributions of its tourism and events sector. Glasgow is one of the GDS-Index’s legacy destinations, having joined at its inception in 2016 to make great strides as a steward for its social, environmental, and economic well-being. It’s critical for the business events community to leverage the opportunity to act now, raise the bar, and invest in a thriving destination on a journey towards greater regenerative destination management, today and going forward. It’s also good for business, as Glasgow’s hosting of the GIN network demonstrates.”
Aileen Crawford, Head of Tourism and Conventions, Glasgow Convention Bureau said: “Glasgow was the first UK city to join the Global Destination Sustainability Index in 2016, in association with the launch of the Convention Bureau’s People Make Glasgow Greener strategy to help conference organisers deliver responsible and sustainable meetings aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, it is heartening to see that associations, such as the Guidelines International Network, are responding to the climate emergency by incorporating sustainability into their conference planning from the outset.”
Gordon Hodge, Head of Conferencing & Events at the University of Strathclyde said: “We’re working hard to ensure that we deliver every element of our operation more sustainably, playing our part in reducing the University’s emissions 70% by 2025. We constantly update our sustainability webpage to help organisers and delegates make more sustainable choices, and our conference apps reduce the need for printed materials. In terms of food and beverage, we’ve completely removed red meat from our menus in favour of plant-forward dishes, and standardised buffet options have reduced waste and energy consumption, while maintaining quality and value. We’re so proud of our recent Green Meetings Gold award, and delighted that our approach to sustainability was a key factor in bringing Guidelines International Network’s meeting to the city.”
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Images: Technology & Innovation Centre, Glasgow
For more information contact:
Head of Tourism and Conventions
Glasgow Convention Bureau
Glasgow is one of the world’s leading conference destinations and business tourism contributes significantly to the city’s economy. The city’s primary point of contact for conference organisers, Glasgow Convention Bureau, works with partners on over 100 bids for major UK and international conferences each year. It has been recognised as the UK’s Best Convention Bureau for 16 consecutive years in a UK-wide poll conducted by influential industry magazine, M&IT. Since first winning the title in 2007, Glasgow Convention Bureau has worked with industry, academia, city and national partners to deliver over £1 billion worth of business to Glasgow. That equates to securing more than 3,500 domestic and international conferences, with some 1.3 million conference delegates having spent more than four million nights in the city’s hotels.
Glasgow Convention Bureau activity supports Glasgow’s recovery plan for tourism, developed following a review of the Glasgow Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023. Led by the partnership of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland, the Visitor Plan has ‘Building on events – business and leisure’ as a strategic priority. Glasgow Convention Bureau was the first conference organisation to gain Green Tourism accreditation and sign up to the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency initiative. Tourism Declares supports tourism businesses, organisations and individuals in taking action to reduce their carbon emissions.
Glasgow Convention Bureau launched the Go Greener in Glasgow service to support conference organisers aiming to host more sustainable meetings in the city. The initiative brings to life the ambitions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) through an interactive workshop for meeting planners, professional conference organisers and academic conference ambassadors looking for practical tips on delivering a sustainable conference, aligned to the UN SDGs.
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