From building bikes for youth to cleaning up the coast, more organizations are incorporating socially responsible activities into their meetings and events. Whether your company's goal is to give something back to the host destination or boost employee morale, socially responsible activities like these make a positive, long-lasting impact in the community.
The phrase corporate social responsibility (CSR) was coined in 1953, and the concept emerged more in academic discussion in the 70's and 80's. Ben & Jerry's was the first company to report about CSR in 1989 and the first major corporation was Shell in 1998.
Fundamental morality in companies has become widespread since then. In this year's Corporate Social Responsibility Survey by Successful Meetings, nearly 75 percent of surveyed meeting planners said their company included an activity that was socially responsible at their meetings and events in the last year.
Survey findings also revealed that 36.1 percent of meeting planners expect to increase corporate social responsibility activities at their events this year. These programs are popular with attendees. Successful Meetings notes that only 13 percent of planners felt that attendees would prefer entertainment to a CSR event. With so many attendees enthusiastic about CSR activities, there's a strong likelihood your future events will have high participation.
Among the many benefits CSR activities are fostering teambuilding and giving participants something tangible to show for their efforts at the end of their event. Determine your organization's specific goals for hosting a CSR activity. Examples of goals from Successful Meetings include: to give back something to the host destination, build relationships with clients, boost employee morale, increase brand recognition, advance personal accountability and to promote corporate ethics.
The key to choosing the most fitting and fulfilling socially responsible activity is to first get to know your participants. If you want them to be excited about the activity, focus on their strengths. For example, if they're passionate about volunteering with youth or teaching a particular subject, then your organization's time could be well spent at an after-school program.
At Kiawah Island Golf Resort, our conference planning managers have experience working with organizations at all different stages of planning CSR activities. Meeting planner can work with their personal Kiawah Planning manager to brainstorm CSR activities that will match with company objectives and employee interests.
Adventures in Charleston, a Charleston-based company on-site at Kiawah Island Golf Resort helps organizations and their employees find unique ways to give back. From group tours to volunteering efforts, companies can identify positive outlets that match their group's interests. For example, one company stepped aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston to deliver care packages and kits to troops overseas. Others have found joy in volunteering at Habitat for Humanity to help construct a new home for a family in need.
Nicole Leaf, Marketing Coordinator at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, works closely with Ronald McDonald House in Charleston, SC and helps groups discover their volunteering niche. "Groups enjoy giving back and being a part of the community," she says. "It's a bonding experience for their attendees to be in the community and helping." These organizations have found different ways to touch people's hearts, and the staff at Kiawah Island Golf Resort also believe it's important to give back.
Other creative ideas for CSR activities include volunteering at animal shelters, coastal clean ups, food shelters, after-school programs, tutoring, school/park beautification, Habitat for Humanity, senior centers or one of the many U Build It programs like U Build It for youth in need. For more ideas and suggested reading on CSR meeting activities, visit Voluntourism.org/meeting.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort shares unique ways groups have volunteered with Ronald McDonald House: KiawahResort.com/about-the-resort/in-the-community.
When we talk about planning conferences today, it's hard to escape the technology aspect. Your attendees embrace technology, and they expect you to do the same - for several reasons.
But with so many conference technologies out there, which one(s) do you need? We compiled a list of the most popular and valuable conference technologies to make your next event a success.
For starters, how will people find information about the conference: Most likely, they'll use Google to seek out the details they need to make a decision or present it to their supervisor. Unless the conference is a secret, you'll need an intriguing, yet detailed event website. With so many platforms that exist, the choices are endless. As blogs modernize and start looking less like blogs and more like websites, a conference website can be built on a platform like Wordpress. The information most sought after should be published and easily accessible on the website.
Here are a few resources to help build a conference website:
• 3 Tips to Increase the Success of Conference Websites
• Conference Website Basics: The Homepage
• Let's Build a Conference Website
One of the keys to successful registration is embedding it directly in the event website. Hosting registration on the actual website helps convert potential attendees into actual attendees. Make a clear call to action with a "Register" or "Register Now" button. Software like Cvent allows attendees to easily register, and event coordinators can use the software for registration management and event marketing.
Speaking of event marketing, electronic invitations (emails) are the best way to reach potential attendees and convert them into registered guests. Email invitations are comprised of an enticing subject line, email body and link to registration. You'll want to send event invitations to prospective attendees, past attendees, speaker and sponsors.
To create an overall better experience for your attendees, our online hotel reservations at Kiawah Island Golf Resort can be customized with a group code. The benefits of arranging online hotel reservations include individual hotel reservations, ease of payment and less event logistics for you to handle.
Ultimately, the big question is always "Do I need a conference app?" The answer: it depends. If the conference is small and intimate, this may not be the answer. However, if your objectives are networking, dynamic schedules with tracks and diverse speakers, then a conference app will most likely be a valuable tool for the conference. The secrets to high engagement and a long app life are promoting it (and the benefits) prior to the event, pushing notifications during the event week and continuing to make the app relevant throughout the year.
If your still interested in event tips, another great resource is the Cvent blog. Throughout the year, you can find advice from industry professionals who write about their personal meeting and event experiences. You may also enjoy reading 4 Incredible Easy Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Event.
How Do you appease a growling stomach? Executive Chefs are exploring how to answer the call from ravenous stomachs in ways that are both delicious and creative.
In recent years, the food scene appears to have overlooked the true purpose of food — to aid our bodies and provide the antidotes they need to be healthy - becoming absorbed with excess instead. Until recently, we've been witnessing plated meals that look more like a crowded concert than a harmonious symphony.
Now, that's changing. People are ready to revisit the simple principle of consuming food for nutrition and survival.
We're banishing artificial food and transforming meals into petite, delectable sensations filled with rich ingredients. Some of the top 2013 F&B meeting trends involve gourmet beverages, "build-your-own" bars, sophisticated snacks and the rage for natural and organic products.
Why is Carbonation Going Gourmet?
When consumers abandon colas, but crave something fizzy, what's popping up? The answer: artisan sodas blending fresh, local ingredients. We're talking about carbonated drinks with real fruit juices and herbs that add a drop of healthfulness to that famously refreshing "Ahh!"
You'll discover blended smoothies, juices and popsicles with nourishing ingredients that are traditionally not mingled together, such as lychee, pomegranate, tea, chai and coffee. An article on Cvent names tea infused ice cream and popsicles "the newest generation of cool, delicious fun! Imagine even your health conscious guests enjoying the poolside cocktail party with a green tea infused popsicle."
Don't Say We Didn't Tell You to "Build Your Own"
Behind all of this change, there are many requests for modified menus and made-to-order entrees. Everyone wants a meal that's plated to suit his or her diet perfectly, whether it is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free or dairy-free. Because customizable dining and interactive service create a fun meal experience, build-your-own food bars are sprouting up.
The Rage for Natural, Organic, Kale and Mustard Seed
Only a few years ago, our tasebuds might not have been ready for flavors that are taking the flagship on upscale menus. Consumers are not only interested in eating with a purpose - they want the most nutritional value and fresh, local and artisanal products.
Kale, mustard greens, dandelions, mizuna, collard greens (in the Lowcountry, we were born ready) and beets have become popular at trendy, upscale North American restaurants. Kale skyrocketed in popularity after celebrity chefs, cookbook authors and Gwyneth Paltrow promoted its health benefits. In the past year, sales for this cabbage relative were in demand at 3,000 tons. But watch out kale! Green mustard is next in line to become a cultural food phenomenon.
Members of our Food & Beverage team are constantly watching trends like these to create holistic dining experiences for you. And dining choices at Kiawah Island Golf Resort are always diverse. Make lunch or dinner reservations today at one of the ten dining options at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
In the next decade, it's predicted that the largest population of the workforce will be comprised of Generation Y (ages 18 - 32) and Baby Boomers (ages 47 - 65). For companies that seek to attract top-notch employees and conference organizers who want to appeal to the masses (and maintain excitement among participants), creating meeting space that appeals to these various generations is a top priority. Traditional workspace and meeting design are continuously being transformed and redeveloped after each event to exceed expectations of the participants.
How are changing workplace demographics driving conference designers and planners to rethink their meeting space design?
As workplace researchers learn more about the generational preferences, workplaces and meeting spaces are adapting to become innovative and appeal to each. For instance, Knoll, a workplace furnishing company researched "work patterns and preferences of 15,000 employees in 40 countries, and across four generations."
Knoll's research reveals Baby Boomers like quality meeting space and place an emphasis on structured face-to-face meetings. Their findings also reveal that Generation Y's top priority is socially minded meetings that incorporate technology and offer a home-like ambiance. Meanwhile, Knoll discovered that Generation X (ages 33 - 46) is really not like either of these generations; instead, they rank casual interaction as an important factor of their workplace.
Find out more about technology that appeals to Generation Y and how to create dynamic tech-savvy meetings. To accommodate these different preferences and work styles, conference organizers and meeting planners are designing innovative meeting space set-ups that appeal to different generations.
1. One room, a variety of settings - Planners are diving ballrooms and other spaces into "zones" that feature a variety of compelling environments. This type of set-up has become popular after debuting at the Conference for Technology, Education and Design, more widely known as the TED conference. TED organizers partnered with Steelcase, the world's largest office environments manufacturer, to develop space that creates more opportunities for engagement. For instance, at a TED conference, a ballroom is divided into zones for attendees to listen or multi-task while presenters are speaking. These zones include bean bag chairs for small groups to listen to the speaker, quiet zones with lounge chairs, tabletops to work or take notes, white boards on wheels to take notes and engage, and cafes with media areas to plug in. A conference design like this allows all participants to have their own unique experience based on their learning behaviors.
2. Designated areas for networking and reflection - For annual conferences and events, participants register and return each year because they're interested in new education and networking face to face. Innovative conference organizers are expanding the meeting space so attendees can network and have opportunities to meet the speakers. An informal setting designated for networking allows these individuals to reflect on the new conference education and relate it to past experiences. This is a shift from traditional passive learning to active learning. Attendees and organizations both consider leaving a conference with actionable goals valuable in the overall meeting experience.
3. Space that transitions from "I" to "We" - Environment behavior theory suggests that environment impacts behavior. Recognizing this, Amy Montgomery, a conference service coordinator at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, says conference organizers are requesting anamorphic space with several projectors strategically placed in the room and team tables to encourage face-to-face connection among participants. "It's fascinating to witness and be a part of a movement like this in the meetings industry. Planners are breaking away from a traditional classroom set-up where everyone is expected to sit in rows, facing the front of the room," explains Montgomery. "Now, planners are focusing on team collaboration and engagement and are still able to meet their initial meeting objectives, which is a double-win for the team when they return to the office." Other innovative ways planners are using meeting space to transition from individual behavior to group collaboration is through mobile furniture. Mobile chairs and desks allow participants to transition from theatre-style lectures appealing to traditional Gen X, to a collaborative circle for group discussion for socially minded Gen Y.
4. Feeling of home - We found out in Knoll's study that Generation Y wants an engaging workspace that blends their personal and private life, while Baby Boomers don't need space with an emotional connectedness of home. One conference that excels at creating a sense of belonging for participants is TED. At TED2013, Social Spaces include informal settings where participants can watch speakers on couches, beds and bean bag chairs with the freedom to multi-task, like blog, tweet, eat or network. An environment like this engages Generation Y, who feel a sense of belonging. Other environmental elements that appeal to various generations and create a sense of belonging include the ability to manipulate lighting and utilize movable white boards.
As the workforce expands with various generations in the workplace, it'll become more essential for organizations to create a workplace and meeting space that nurture different learning behaviors and work styles. Innovative meeting space like this satisfies participants and helps organizations achieve their conference and meeting goals.
Think about the last time your team came up with a BRILLIANT IDEA - where was it?
Was it in a meeting or perhaps on a retreat?
Those are the most likely answers because a recent experiment proved the best brainstorming occurs face-to-face, not over video chat or on the phone.
Not only does a face-to-face meeting generate the best ideas, but this experiment conducted by IMEX and the Meetology Group showed that individuals who came together face-to-face were able to brainstorm the most ideas, ideas of better quality and ideas that were more diverse.
How much better is it face-to-face? Twenty-nine was the highest number of ideas generated in-person by an experimental pair, which was 50% higher than the phone brainstorm and 70% higher than the video chat.
There’s a lot to be said about this data. IMEX’s CEO Carina Bauer suggests if a company or organization needs to generate a lot of high-quality, exciting ideas, it needs to bring staff or customers together for an effective and productive brainstorming session. It seems the outcome of the interaction will outweigh any other channel.
Because it’s so imperative for people to be connected to work, at home and socially, technology in face-to-face meetings is non-negotiable. Speakers have said goodbye to the days of asking participants to turn off their cell phones.
Instead, speakers and conference organizers are saying...let’s use apps, personal devices and social media to make face-to-face meetings more dynamic and interactive. Here are impressive ways that meeting technology can improve face-to-face interaction:
Streamline Q&A - A leadership forum is great for individuals to share ideas and express their opinions. But some individuals in the group may feel timid about addressing certain issues. Organizations are encouraging participation from otherwise timid employees by having them text their ideas or concerns anonymously. It encourages an open discussion among the group when there are options to speak up or text in with responses.
Collaborative whiteboard - Organizations are trading in flip charts for interactive experiences. Each participant uses a tablet and connects to a laptop with the interactive whiteboard program, Smoothboard Air installed. Everyone is able to see the same screen but also collaborate live and add their ideas with their own tablet.
Gamification - Elizabeth Henderson, MPI member and an executive-level director for Meeting Change, suggests choosing a gaming experience that will fulfill what participants want to do most: learn, compete, collaborate or problem-solve. Organizations using gamification as “a journey” for their meeting are choosing games that will help them achieve measurable goals and assimilate the overall story and meeting objectives.
Additionally, to get your participants excited about tools such as games or collaborative white boards, integrate appropriate social media platforms that will further the story. Participants want an outlet to express their ideas or experiences. Whether you’re debating on an app, tablet or social media platform, choose one that is most appropriate for the meeting objectives and the audience composition. Remember, you want to keep their attention and boost interaction that already has a large potential to produce the most high-quality and diverse ideas for your organization.
You can have a meeting anywhere, including in the office on a daily basis. But, group recreation is one of the reasons why companies plan destination meetings. "In fact, that's part of why people come to Kiawah Island," explains Jake Feary, Director of Kiawah Island Golf Resort's Group Recreation. "You can come and relax, let your mind take a break, enjoy time with your co-workers and do something that's out of your realm. [Doing something out of your realm] is probably one of the reasons why groups like to do it."
Even more enticing, group recreation can strengthen internal relationships, Group activities are something participants can share together besides a work conversation, which leads to better productivity if people can relax and share those times with co-workers. Scholars Dr. Akintunde and Ukpong who explored productivity through recreation and exercise explain, "Recreation is a means of integrating the employer-employee relationship. Thus, recreation provided the opportunity for workers and management to interact on a personal level, thereby developing in the social setting good relations and a mutual understanding that would transmit to the work setting."
When groups can explore a location and take advantage of the destination, it improves the overall experience and can elevate the destination. Any group recreation that is designed to showcase the destination's heritage, wildlife, culture and more is worth pursuing.
In the instance that spouses travel too, organized spouse events can keep your employee's significant others entertained during meetings. Events like a walking tour and summer kayaking tour are excellent ideas to keep spouses engaged during a day meeting or golf outing.
One type of recreation that can be exhilarating for your participants and make a huge impression is out-of-the-box group recreation. "We don't say 'no' - if you can think of it, we'll do it," is how Feary describes Kiawah Island Golf Resort's group recreation programs. Recently, the resort received a request to plan a series of high-action activities. Feary arranged for participants to be picked up by a helicopter and delivered to a nearby shrimping boat where everyone would then kayak to the next adventure. While that may be sophisticated, out-of-the-box group recreation can be simple too. The National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia has a lot of organizations take advantage of their 110 wooded acres. Utilizing the conference center's original ropes course, organizations have requested to set up military obstacles nearby for individuals to complete as a group. Through these series of challenges, the group is able to participate in an experience that's out of the ordinary. Activities that take advantage of the property's existing amenities can be easier to plan and can also help maintain simplicity for participating individuals.
Sports recreation is another big trend in group recreation and activities. Nascar, BMX bike ramps and game shows all engage participants in an interactive activity that's very unique. More typical sport recreation for groups might include: hiking, surfing, paddle boarding, waterskiing, crocquet, bocci ball, paintball.
When a resort doesn't offer a specific recreation, a coordinator will most likely be able to help plan an off-site group activity. For instance, an afternoon at a nearby paintball park is an opportune break from the daily meeting agenda. Pev's Paintball Park, 48 acres with 14 playing fields in Virginia has become a perfect outing for an interactive game among employees. It's thrilling for groups to participate in a fast-paced competition like paintball or flag football.
Plus sports tournaments are popular, featuring events like volleyball, softball, baseball, ultimate frisbee, or frisbee golf. Recreational activities and competitions like these can help alleviate fatigue and relieve mental and physical well-being. The more satisfied an individual is about their recreation level, the more productive they are.
In a super relaxed environment with incredible outdoors, a nature tour is typically designed to showcase wildlife and botanicals, with the tour guide as a vehicle to help individuals transplant by bicycle, kayak or walking. A nature tour is an opportunity to see wildlife home to that area; at Kiawah Island, for example, indigenous wildlife include 140 species of birds, bald eagles, mink, alligators, turtles, bobcats, and more. Nature tours should be lead by naturalists who love teaching and love the environment, which is why the tours are small for a lot of intimacy and one-on-one interaction.
It's important that a property offers creative group recreation ideas for different activity levels, year-round weather conditions, wildlife season, the number of participants, duration of activity, and budgets. If you're interested in talking to Jake Feary, Director of Outdoor Programs about a recreation idea or reserving group recreation, call (843) 768-2016 or email@example.com.
Tides are turning. Destination meetings like organizational and executive-level retreats are making a comeback. Holding important meetings on-site or locally is slowing as organizations see greater value and return when meetings are planned with purpose at a destination.
Meeting locally can put the success of a session at risk. There can be distracations, and attendees may not disengage from daily routines or give their full attention because they’re checking work email and handling personal matters. In addition, destinations are shown to move the needle when organizations want to create excitement. Nearly 75% of participants whose companies sponsor incentive travel reported that “destination” had the highest impact, being either positive or very positive. (Source: Iconnection)
Why travel? Aside from rewarding experiences, there are real benefits of face-to-face meetings. While a group of executives may find it difficult to leave the office, the time away can allow them to reconnect and refocus. Forbes Insight took a deeper look in a study that reports positive return on investment for business travel. While technology can be used for smaller meetings, most surveyed executives believe there are tangible benefits to in-person meetings that outweigh the time and expense associated with travel and the cost of video meeting technology.
During destination meetings, employees gain from networking opportunities and become motivated about tangible goals. When asked about value-added benefits of destination meetings, 42% of surveyed executives believe that in-person social interaction is necessary for effective teamwork. (Source: Forbes)
Incentive Research Foundation found that companies sponsoring incentive travel programs see positive influence on organizational culture, retention of top performers and employees’ motivation to meet or exceed financial and non-financial objectives. In fact, 72% of incentive travel participants report an increased feeling of loyalty toward the company sponsoring incentive travel. (Source: IRF)
Executive-level retreats are equally as important as organizational retreats and incentive meetings. Retreats for executives provide organizational leaders with an opportunity to have open, candid discussions such as challenges in leadership or future growth strategies. It’s a time to slow down as a team and walk through each area of operations. In order to create a positive, productive workplace and retain employees, it’s crucial for leadership to come together uninterrupted as a team to learn each others’ personalities and communication styles, and bond. Like organizational retreats, leadership will view the retreat as a valuable experience if they’re able to connect as a group and bring tangible goals and a big picture bring back to the office.
Investing in human capital is one of the most important results of executive-level retreats and incentive meetings. There’s potential to boost morale by providing opportunities to build relationships among leadership and between top executives and associates. Most executives also prefer in-person meetings to build meaningful relationships with clients and business partners, making executives’ involvement in networking critical to success.
What’s in it for me? Like any other meeting, you can measure ROI for organizational and executive retreats by intended outcomes. US Travel Association was able to quantify the return on incentive travel investments as $4 to $1. And to further gauge the impact, an econometric model confirmed that for every dollar spent on business travel, companies see a return of $12.50 in revenue and $3.80 in profits over three years. Imagine longer retention, improved performance and efficient teamwork as a result of an incentive meeting, and to top it off, an impact on profit. To further back these findings, the association conducted an analysis on what would happen if a company ended all business travel; the results in just one year were drastic, with a 12% profit decrease.
There’s more to be said about the impact of incentive meetings vs. no incentive meetings. A study by Incentive Research Foundation focused on a manufacturer who awarded incentive travel to retailers that met or exceeded predefined goals. This manufacturer’s CEO and VP both believed business would decrease if the company stopped the program. And over half the employees stated the incentive meeting was important for creating and strengthening business-to-business partnerships.
Clearly, it’s not just about tight travel budgets anymore. Destination retreats and meetings are necessary for stronger, more meaningful relationships among employees, top-level executives and potential clients, as well as for business partnerships, enhanced performance and long-term retention.
In summary, destination meetings and executive retreats are crucial to business for these important reasons:
1. Increased productivity. Important business decisions and full engagement engagement are more effective in a destination meeting. 2. Tangible Benefits. Face-to-face meetings offer real advantages for the company and its employees, while incentive travel positively influences organizational culture, teamwork and employee loyalty. 3. Real ROI. The returns of business and incentive meetings are significant and quantifiable when objectives and metrics to measure success are established.
Sources: Inconnection.uk.com http://www.inconnection.uk.com/2012/06/incentive-travel-increases-loyalty/ Forbes http://images.forbes.com/forbesinsights/StudyPDFs/Business_Meetings_FaceToFace.pdf USTA Study http://www.atlastravel.com/pdf/USTA_ExecutiveSummary.pdf Incentive Research Foundation http://theirf.org/research/content/6000112/anatomy-of-a-successful-incentive-travel-program/ http://theirf.org/Channel-Incentive-Travel-A-Case-Study.6088935.html