With corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals taking center stage, meeting and event professionals will need to prioritize stronger sustainability measures while carefully tracking their impact. Here are practical tools and resources that will help turn those goals into reality.
This content was created collaboratively by Hilton and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.
Around the world, institutions and corporations are working to do their part to reduce the impacts of climate change by setting ambitious environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals that reduce environmental impact while increasing positive community change. Today, the most successful organizations are committed to environmental protection, social responsibility, and more mindful corporate governance.
For meeting and event professionals, these ESG targets present a new challenge: Meeting professionals will need to integrate more sustainability practices into their events but will also have to report on that progress. Ultimately, that means learning to measure the impact of their hard work — an intimidating task for anyone. Between different sources of emissions and ways to measure emissions, it can be an academic exercise. With the addition of the social priorities included in ESG goals, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
That’s why Hilton has been pioneering a set of ‘Meet with Purpose’ resources to help guide meeting and event professionals. These resources help not only with hosting more environmentally sustainable events, but also with measuring and reporting their impact. It’s all part of Hilton’s ESG strategy to drive responsible travel for the travel and tourism industry, called Travel with Purpose. Across its vast hotel portfolio, Hilton has set aggressive and science-backed 2030 targets to reduce emissions as well as water and waste, ultimately leading the way toward a net zero future. Between 2008 and 2022, Hilton reduced emissions intensity across its portfolio of hotels by 44 percent, water consumption by 38 percent, and waste by 58 percent.
Hilton has proven that working together to advance mutual ESG initiatives creates a win-win for Hilton and its customers, who often have their own company-wide sustainability benchmarks to meet. That’s why Hilton provides its customers resources that:
- Help them understand the environmental impact of their transient and group stays through LightStay, Hilton’s award-winning and proprietary ESG management system
- Estimate the carbon footprint of individual meetings and events by using Hilton’s Meeting Impact Calculator
- Leverage Hilton’s Meet with Purpose Checklist to lower the impact of meetings or events from the start
Measuring and Reporting
It’s no secret that ESG reporting starts with being able to measure your impact, but it’s not always clear what that means in practical terms. Hilton is making this level of insight a realistic goal for meeting and event professionals everywhere.
LightStay Makes Informed Venue Selection Easy
Everyone knows that an event’s sustainability report card is going to depend heavily on the venue chosen, but how can professionals know in advance which venues offer the best options? As part of its ESG efforts, Hilton has worked toward greater transparency with a unique tool called LightStay. It not only measures the use of energy, water, and waste at every single Hilton branded hotel across the globe; it also makes these metrics available to professionals through easy-to-understand reports. As a testament to the tool’s trustworthiness, LightStay meets the criteria of the United-Nations-founded Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), which sets internationally recognized standards for sustainable travel and tourism practices.
During the sales consultation process, meeting and event professionals can request a LightStay report for any Hilton branded hotel they’re considering — totally free of charge. In addition to providing transparency on key sustainability metrics, this report also details how the hotel is working to positively impact the local community. LightStay gives professionals ideas for reviewing all of their options to build give-back opportunities into their own event agendas along with ways to meet more sustainably. In addition to planning a valuable event for their guests, these programs allow them to leave a positive impact on the communities they’re visiting. Furthermore, Hilton is committed to ongoing education for their customers on these topics to aid in ease of understanding.
Use the Meeting Impact Calculator to Measure Individual Events
It’s great to have a full breakdown of your hotel’s sustainability metrics, but is there a way to drill down further to understand the footprint of the event itself? Hilton’s Meeting Impact Calculator is a tool designed for just that purpose, leveraging the robust measurement tools behind LightStay to predict the impact of individual events. The tool works by factoring in the event’s anticipated room block, number of meals and snacks, total days, and the amount of meeting space needed.
In 2022 alone, Hilton issued more than 17,000 of these reports — detailing each meeting’s projected energy and water consumption along with waste generation, while also shedding light on the potential social benefits.
The Meeting Impact Calculator’s pre-event report can be a good jumping-off point for conversations with the Hilton sales team on recommendations for how to gather more sustainably or tie activations back to their own organization’s ESG goals or values. Professionals can also use the report to gain buy-in from their own senior leadership; further, it can inform any messaging sent to attendees about the event’s ESG goals. Post-event, the planner can use the Meeting Impact Calculator once again to create a final report based on the event’s actual impact metrics.
Together, the LightStay report and Meeting Impact Calculator have a twofold benefit: Event professionals can make more informed venue choices while supporting their organization’s own ESG goals with robust measurement protocols and the legacy of a positive impact in the community.
Why Hilton Calls This Program ‘Meet With Purpose’
LightStay and the Meeting Impact Calculator are both part of Hilton’s larger ‘Meet with Purpose’ program. Beyond providing important measurement tools, the program helps clients create meaningful change in both the experience of event attendees and the lives of the communities that host their events. It’s founded on three pillars:
Hilton helps meeting and event professionals and attendees reduce their environmental footprint by enabling informed low-waste choices. Examples include issuing digital keys via the Hilton Honors app to cut down on plastic key cards, and helping meeting professionals eliminate or responsibly source event giveaways.
Nourish Attendees and Communities
Hilton enables meeting and event professionals to plan climate-conscious menus that feature locally sourced and sustainably grown meals. Further, they offer meal plans designed to minimize excess food: Smaller portions might be paired with the option to take seconds, or “menu matching” might create efficiencies by aligning your meal choices with those of adjacent events. Hilton also provides a wealth of options for donating leftovers to local social service organizations. Hundreds of participating Hilton hotels globally maintain relationships with community organizations that benefit from donated food, with current contributions feeding more than 160,000 people each year.
Leave a Positive Impact in the Destination
Hilton looks to connect events with social impact opportunities that can help local communities while also engaging attendees. Sustainability isn’t just about limiting our environmental impact. It’s about leaving the community better than it was when we arrived. Attendees can enjoy giving back when meeting and event professionals allocate meeting time for volunteer work that aligns with the organization’s core values. For instance, participants might pack meals or hygiene kits that local organizations can then provide to community members in need. Another example is a get-one-give-one activity, such as having attendees choose one pair of socks for themselves and another that will go to a local charity.
Using the Meet With Purpose Checklist
For those looking for granular advice on hosting more sustainable meetings, Hilton has created the Meet with Purpose Checklist. Its step-by-step guidance helps meeting and event professionals identify practical ways to bring ESG to life in their meetings, in this way supporting their own organization’s goals and working toward a more sustainable event industry. Here are some examples of the ideas included:
- Minimize or eliminate single-use plastics and Styrofoam, such as with reusable bottles and filling stations.
- Provide attendees with maps or instructions to walk or use public transportation.
- Encourage use of the bulk pumps for shower supplies.
- Encourage use of the recycle bins available in guestrooms and throughout the property, and provide clear signage to indicate where they are in the meeting space.
- Use reusable or recyclable serving items for meals and snacks, but only purchase compostable dishware if the property has a commercial composter on-site.
- Avoid individually wrapped items and serve in bulk to reduce plastic waste.
- Make the event carbon neutral with third-party-certified carbon credits.
For access to the full checklist, Hilton invites meeting and event professionals to reach out to a sales representative from Hilton Worldwide Sales.
For carbon or environmental impact that is unable to be avoided in the planning of the event, planners have the option to have Hilton offset an event’s remaining carbon footprint by investing in high-quality carbon reduction projects with its partner, ClimeCo. For instance, carbon credits might go toward wind farms or forest replenishment, counterbalancing or “offsetting” the carbon used at your event. Meeting and event professionals receive a full report so they can follow the money and see the positive impact they’re having.
Making Informed Sustainable Choices
In a world where companies strive to make a meaningful environmental and social impact, Hilton has emerged as a pioneer in sustainable meeting and event planning.
Hilton’s Meet with Purpose program enables meeting and event professionals to make informed, environmentally conscious choices and engage in meaningful social impact activities that benefit local communities. Its cutting-edge tools, including LightStay and the Meeting Impact Calculator, give meeting and event professionals the information they need to make a data-driven case for designing with ESG in mind.
Visit Hilton’s EventReady Knowledge Hub to discover more ESG content, or contact your Hilton Worldwide Sales representative to learn more.
This content was created collaboratively by Hilton and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.