TIA's sustainability journey

TIA has signed up to the TSC. Follow us on our journey to achieve the 14 Business Sustainability Commitments! 


Mid October 2018

We've been volunteering, doing our bit for our local Wellington community, and the environment (Commitment 9 - Community Engagement, and Commitment 11 - Ecological Engagement). Eleven of us spent half a day weeding at Zealandia and checking their multiple first aid kits. It was hard work and great fun, and we enjoyed a short tour  afterwards with our fabulous guide Ashley. Located in the heart of Wellington, this wonderful urban eco sanctuary is home to everything from tuatara to takahē.

Meanwhile, our Events team spent a few hours at social enterprise Eat My Lunch (pictured above), very efficiently making 253 sandwiches to go into lunches for school children. For every lunch you buy, Eat My lunch Gives a lunch to a Kiwi kid in need. In just over two years, Eat My Lunch has gone from a small business run out of a family home to making over one million lunches.

Early October 2018

We finally finished action plans for the 14 business commitments and presented to staff on what each commitment means to TIA, how we are currently tracking against each commitment (a score out of 10) and what we need to do to get a 10 out of 10.

Staff have been asked to provide feedback so we can prioritise our sustainability effort, keeping in mind three criteria - where we will get the biggest bang for our buck, where we can get some quick wins and what they are passionate about when it comes to sustainability. We’ve also been looking at ways to embed sustainability into TIA’s DNA, including adding the actions as KPI’s in our business plan.

Our group recognise the importance of looking beyond TIA for inspiration and tools to help us progress our action plans and get the wider TIA team on board. To that end, we had a great discussion with Laurie Foon of the Sustainable Business Network. A couple of good tips were: ‘work with the willing to get things moving within your organisation’, and ‘get some quick wins under your belt to keep the momentum going’.

The next step is to prioritise the actions, work out a budget, timeline and assign responsibilities.

In the meantime, we are off to Zealandia mid-October for a volunteer day - helping TIA meet Commitment 11 - Ecological Restoration.  


Late August 2018

Our 14 business commitment action plans are finally complete and have been sent to our two TSC Sustainability Advocates for peer review. As with everything, completing these has taken longer than estimated. Some are much more complex than others, and came back to the group for discussion and amending multiple times. Having weekly, hour-long meetings with an agenda has helped keep us on track. These meetings are chaired by a different team member each week in the spirit of helping staff flourish and succeed. 

We are now planning to present our action plans to staff on 12 September and have started work on our PowerPoint. It will be a collective presentation – short and sharp, focusing on where we are at with each Commitment (including a score out of 10), what success will look like (a 10 out of 10) and key actions to get there. 

We’ll also talk about next steps and have a mechanism for staff feedback. Some of our actions impact on various teams’ workplans, so we’ll give those managers a bit of a heads up before the presentation so they aren’t caught unawares. A key next step will be a timeline. We are also starting to think about how the team will work going forward. A small group can’t be expected to deliver on all Commitments. At this stage we are thinking it will be a ‘jellyfish approach’, with the team changing shape and bringing in relevant staff members depending on what initiatives we are working on. Several of us attended a women in sustainability lunch, hosted by the Sustainable Business Network. We are going to invite one of their team to share tips with us on how to engage and motivate our colleagues to help make our action plans a reality.

In the meantime, progress is already been made on some Commitments, including a TIA volunteer day in October with Zealandia, where we will roll up our sleeves and help with ecological restoration. We will also be moving into a new office, which is a great opportunity to incorporate lots of sustainability features across all 4 pillars – environmental, host, visitor and economic  (budget permitting of course!).


June 2018

We had planned to have our 14 Business Commitment action plans completed by June and be ready to present to staff, but it looks like that deadline will be pushed out (see April speed bumps).

In mid-June the team decides we need to take action to keep the momentum going. A meeting is convened to see where we are at with developing our 14 Commitment action plans. Those who have spare capacity agree to help out those who need assistance. We agree to meet weekly until the action plans are drafted. We'll then share them with the team for feedback and then present them to the wider TIA team. In the meantime we update staff on where we are at, with a big reveal now planned for August!


May 2018

Our 1-2 page Business Commitment action plans are at varying stages of completion. We are finding that it’s much easier to develop action plans for some Commitments than others. 


April 2018

And it’s a case of the best laid plans! April throws up a big speed bump when we are given two hours to evacuate our Wellington office due to structural safety concerns. Several of our team now have to focus on settling us into temporary premises and finding new office space. As well, the manager leading our internal sustainability work resigns.

There’s also a huge effort going into preparing for TRENZ in Dunedin in early May. In short, there’s not a lot of time for progressing our 14 Business Commitment action plans.


March 2018

A two-hour meeting is scheduled for Commitment champions to tell the group what their Commitment means for TIA and what needs to be done to get it from its current level to a ‘yes’ assessment.

There’s lots of discussion around things like scope and priorities, and we only get through half the Commitments in the allotted time.

We have a second meeting later in the month to cover off the rest.

Next steps

Over the next two months, based on feedback from our meeting, group members will write a short report (1-2 pages) for their Commitment, outlining what it means for TIA and an action plan.  A template is created to give the reports consistency. We’ll also note linkages to other Commitments. There’s some crossover and it makes sense not to reinvent the wheel.

Chris provides an example for Commitment 12 - Carbon Reduction. As part of this, using an online calculator, he has worked out TIA’s carbon footprint, our long-term goal (zero), and a plan of attack to achieve that goal. Once you’ve got a plan, the goal doesn’t seem quite as daunting!

Our next two-hour meeting scheduled for late May.

Internal communications

The group’s Communications team member is asked to develop a short communications plan to keep the wider TIA team up to date with our progress.

We agree to do a “big reveal” to TIA staff in early June.


December 2017

Tracking progress

We meet for one hour and make a quick assessment of how TIA is currently performing against the 14 Commitments, giving each a ranking of yes, 'sort of', no.

For the record, we consider we are achieving pretty well against 4 Commitments, ‘sort of’ against 7 (and it was a very limited sort of for some of them), and a definite ‘no’ for the remaining 3.

Chris sets up an Excel spreadsheet to track our progress towards meeting the Commitments.

Next steps

Depending on areas of interest, each group member is assigned at least one or two Commitments to ‘own’ and champion to the wider TIA team (some Commitments have two champions).

We agree to meet again in mid-late February, and in the interim: 

  • think about defining the Commitment(s) we have been allocated in terms of what it means for TIA


  • provide a brief plan of attack on how we will go about addressing the gap between our current performance and the desired state envisaged in the Business Commitment. The group is advised to check out the TSC website for guidelines, tips and tools.


November 2017

TIA signs up for the Tourism Sustainability Commitment.

Chief Operating Officer Chris McGeown will spearhead TIA’s efforts to achieve the 14 Business Sustainability Commitments. He’s thinking big, and suggests we aspire to become the most sustainably run association in New Zealand - maybe even the world! At this stage, we are a long way from that.

Chris calls for volunteers from the 20-strong TIA team to be part of the new Tourism Sustainability Group that will help achieve the 14 Commitments.

Seven staff volunteer, with a good spread across our teams and locations (Wellington based plus one person in Wanaka).

Our inaugural meeting is set for early December to get the ball rolling.