SMF panellists encourage sustainable business practices

SUSTAINABLE practices can help retain staff and lead to collective savings, and while they may be tricky to implement, these challenges can be overcome, said panellists at the recent Singapore MICE Forum.

Speaking at a panel discussion during the event, Kevin Teng, executive director, sustainability, Marina Bay Sands, said sustainability is a way to drive staff engagement.

While there is a degree of sustainability awareness among staff in the group’s properties, there is a gap between sustainability awareness and action, he said.

To this, Guy Bigwood, group sustainability director with MCI, suggested that sales and marketing and project team members should also take ownership of sustainability efforts, not just sustainability team members.

“Motivating sustainable action is deeply psychological. A simple example is the ‘subtle’ wording for the towel change message in a hotel room,” he told TTGmice e-Weekly.

“It may not be as compelling if you tell the guest how many people in the hotel did not change their towel, compared to saying how many on this floor, or how many in this room,” he added.

Moreover, general manager of Experia Events Lloyd Tan noted, “Acting sustainable is a significant leap and many companies are reluctant because of the ‘complexity’ (of steps needed for certification).”

To tackle this, companies can start by creating focused guidelines and choosing an area or an event to implement sustainability, while ensuring there is standardisation, panellists said.

Regarding the cost question, panellists agreed that although sustainable practices can be more expensive, there can be “collective” savings.

“Technology is changing, and solar panels are now 70 to 80 per cent cheaper and 40 per cent more efficient. If companies work more strategically, it won’t cost more,” said Bigwood. “For example, organic food may cost about 30 per cent more, but if there is better food waste control, the numbers can even out,” he added.

Furthermore, companies should take baby steps and be focused in their sustainability efforts, and all efforts should be “data driven”, advised panellists.

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