Encouraging reusable drink bottles, providing table talkers, and implementing print-on-demand name tags helped us cut down on waste at recent events.
Measuring our movements
In August the TIA TSC working group met to record our performance against the five Commitments we decided to focus on at the last meeting.
While we felt we were tracking positively in the right direction in all areas, we weren’t sure how to precisely measure our targets on our 'internal scorecard' - currently decided by committee vote.
Measuring is a fairly scientific process when it comes to carbon reduction, but how do we accurately and precisely measure improvements in, for example, community engagement? Hours logged doesn’t necessarily equate to real value, so we’ve decided to re-evaluate how we measure our progress.
Speaking of carbon reduction, we’re confident TIA is tracking in the right direction with this Commitment, thanks to the new partnership with Enviro-Mark Solutions. Enviro-Mark will measure our baseline carbon emissions so we can be precise and targeted with our management and reduction.
Meanwhile, our new video conferencing equipment means we’ve been able to cut down on some short-haul flights and can check in with other staff and stakeholders around the country from the comfort of the office, so this was a good investment.
We’ll continue to work towards a sustainable office environment. Recently we had to remove a large amount of old furniture from our offices. We donated both the furniture and our old technology equipment to charity rather than adding to landfill. However, we found it challenging to replace the furniture with recycled products – sourcing good quality second-hand furniture was more difficult than expected!
At the meeting we also discussed the importance of sourcing sustainable supply chains and products. Our procurement policy now states sustainability will be our first criteria when choosing a new product. This includes ensuring we’re sourcing products from companies who are actively working towards a Living Wage, wherever possible.
Our events team is continuing to lead the way with examples of waste reduction. Throughout July, we hosted four Discussing Tourism events across the country, and in early September we held the first two-day Tourism Summit Aotearoa. At both events we used table talkers instead of individual programmes, along with a mobile app, to save on printing. For catering purposes the team had recyclable cups but encouraged attendees to bring their own reusable cup to use instead. Once again plastic water bottles and plastic wrapped candy were banished from the events, and print-on-demand name tags cut down on waste.
Our Industry Advocate and working group member Rachael Moore dedicated some time on Daffodil Day to help raise money for the Cancer Society of New Zealand. Rachael is based in Wanaka so while we couldn’t join her, it’s clear she had some excellent moral support from her dog Tui! We’ve been trying to find some environmental volunteer work for all staff, but haven’t had a huge amount of luck with our search. We’ll keep looking for new opportunities and will be doing our annual Hospice Strawberry Fair day as a team again in November.
Following feedback from staff, TIA has identified five of the 14 Business Commitments where we want to make good progress over the coming year and these have been included in our 2019/20 workplan.
5 - Product & Market Development
9 - Community Engagement
10 - Sustainable Supply Chains
12 - Carbon Reduction
13 - Waste Management
We have evaluated our current performance against these five Commitments and put targets in place for the next 12 months. Staff can put their hand up to help achieve these targets. They can also help take action on any other commitment they are passionate about. This will be built into individual performance plans.
A sustainability noticeboard is planned for the office kitchen so staff can share sustainability information, goals and success, and to help keep the TSC top of mind.
The TIA Sustainability Team updated our internal scorecard - ranking our progress against the 14 Business Commitments over the past 15 months.
Positively, we recorded progress against almost all of them.
Our Events team is working hard to ensure that TIA's portfolio of events are as environmentally sustainable as possible. The big focus currently is TRENZ 2019, on in Rotorua 13-16 May. Our industry's biggest annual business to business travel and trade event, it attracts more than 1500 domestic and international delegates, including tourism operators, travel and tourism buyers and media. Look out for future posts where we will share these sustainability actions with you.
A group of the TIA team supported the capital's annual Round the Bays (a few of them are pictured above). It was a great day out, celebrating with our Wellington community.
The move into our new Wellington office in early December provided the opportunity to become more sustainable. The following are some of the actions we’ve taken:
Our Events Team is working hard to find ways to ensure TIA's events are more sustainable. Plastic water bottles and plastic wrapped candy were banished from Tourism Summit Aotearoa. We had print-on-demand name tags and didn’t use plastic lanyard pouches. They are also working on a number of actions to make TRENZ 2019 in Rotorua (13-16 May) more environmentally sustainable.
In late November, some of the TIA team served up ice cream and strawberries at the annual Wellington Hospice Strawberry Festival (pictured above). Together with some 200 volunteers, we helped raise a record $45,000 for the local hospice. TIA has been manning a table at the fundraising festival since 2014, supporting our Wellington community and a cause that touches many of us.
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, 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.
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.
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!).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.