“Green” initiatives at Rhode Island hotels and R.I. Convention Center are sought after by large groups, though individual travelers, it seems, have come to take the benefits for granted.
“This isn’t top of mind for everyone, but it is very important for some of the groups coming in, so we want to make sure they recognize that we are on top of it and taking steps to be as green as we can,” said Kim Keough, director of marketing and public relations for the R.I. Convention Center Authority.
Green – that is, environmentally friendly and energy saving – measures, taken in the hospitality industry for the past several years, are now commonplace, hospitality experts say. The authority oversees activity at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the convention center and Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
Group events that require planning for meetings and conventions generate inquiries on a regular basis, Keough said. These range from questions about whether the outlets recycle bottles and cans, conserve water, or recycle cooking oil by turning it into diesel oil.
The authority does all of that and more, she said, citing steps from a list that includes using motion sensors so lighting is only on in parking garages as needed and using napkins made from recycled paper. Leftover food deemed by the chef to be fit for human consumption is either donated to a local food pantry or sent to a pulper for food composting, she added.
“The biggest request is in concessions during big shows – whether or not we use recyclable cups and containers,” she added. “And we do.”
At conventions, using pitchers of water instead of plastic bottles and donating leftover food to charity are initiatives groups seek out, said Tim Walsh, vice president of sales for Discover Newport. Walsh and Keough both noted that it’s not a deal-breaker if these things aren’t offered, but groups holding meetings at hotels and the convention center do usually ask about such things.
“Everybody realizes it is the important thing to do now,” Walsh said.
Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, confirmed in an email that being “green” has become second nature at many outlets.