As many a SITE member will be well familiar with, the extent to which your incentive can be a sustainable endeavour depends heavily on the organizations you partner with — making strategic destination and venue selection more important than ever, especially in light of disturbing new climate change predictions released this week by the UN.
SITE was incredibly proud to bring this year’s Incentive Summit Americas to Banff & Lake Louise, one of sixteen Canadian destinations that has recently opted in to participating in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) as part of a wider Canadian Business Events Sustainability Plan launched last year.
Destination Canada’s wider Business Event Sustainability Plan targets all dimensions of sustainability, challenging those (like SITE!) that host events to improve their economic, socio-cultural, and environmental practices throughout their event. This was on full display throughout this year’sIncentive Summit Americas.
Commitments to the host community
Digging into socio-cultural sustainability features first, this year’s Incentive Summit Americas began with a land blessing from Brenda Holder, a traditional Métis guide and an active Indigenous Tourism advocate.
Brenda also joined Destination Canada’s Jennifer Attersal for a fireside chat later in the weekend, as an example of some of the culturally-minded education on offer.
Attendees also had the chance to participate in a give-back opportunity, where they could opt out of a gifting opportunity and instead translate the cost of the gift directly into a donation to a local organization.
Summit delegates could choose to support the Mountain Muskox Mentorship Program (which brings community members together to create a sustainable support network for those who have gone through a traumatic event) or the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley (which empowers community leadership to address environmental challenges through education and outreach programs to drive advocacy around climate, wildlife, and other environmental topics).
Forty-five attendees opted in, resulting in nearly $2,000 going to the selected nonprofits — with another $600 in tap-to-give donations made as well.
Staying sustainably at the Fairmont Banff Springs
This year’s Incentive Summit Americas also benefited from working closely with our host venue, Fairmont Banff Springs, to learn from and take advantage of the numerous environmental sustainability practices the hotel team has worked hard to design and implement. The hotel was awarded a Five-Green Key Eco Rating for 2023, and was also given the Zero Waste Trailblazers Award by the town of Banff in 2020.
The hotel has implemented zero-waste recipes in its kitchens, and uses a specific software program that measures food waste. Their executive chef is also able to source more than 75 percent of the products used from Alberta and other Canadian provinces, with many of the ingredients also grownor produced onsite.
Fairmont Banff Springs has eliminated the use of plastic water bottles in all guest rooms, and recycles all glass, cardboard, paper, tin, plastic, metal, electronics, shipping pallets, tires, propane cylinders, mattresses, cooking oil, and Nespresso pods. All of this is also complemented by a “robust” composting program. The hotel is also a “Soap for Hope” participant, and recycles or repurposes unused bathroom amenities.
It's not just about gestures like the actions above, though. Events held at Fairmont Banff Springs can use the property’sNet-Zero Carbon Calculator, which allows clients to calculate the carbon footprint of their event. They can then offset emissions by purchasing carbon credits through a partnership with myclimate.
Fairmont Banff Springs generously covered the cost of offsetting Incentive Summit Americas this year, ensuring that we were able to both measure our impact and fully account for it.
SITE members, its executive team, and the many other leaders throughout our association know that there is still much to be done as the organization, the wider business events industry, and society at large all work toward securing a more sustainable future for ourselves and for the generations after us.
We welcome those who are interested in being part of our sustainability journey to share their insights, expertise, and interests, as we continue learning and growing together.