Travel in 2013

Dotted World MapHappy (Almost) New Year!!!!

We’re finishing up the year 2012 with a sneak peek at the best destinations for travel in 2013. Whether you’re traveling by yourself or with a meeting group, you’ll love these lists of up-and-coming hot spots in the U.S. and around the globe!

First up, courtesy of Lonely Planet, we have the the Top 10 U.S. destinations for 2013. (Some of them may surprise you!)

  1. Louisville, Kentucky
  2. Fairbanks, Alaska
  3. San Juan, Washington
  4. Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  5. American Samoa
  6. Eastern Sierra, California
  7. Northern Maine
  8. Twin Cities, Minnesota
  9. Verde Valley, Arizona
  10. Glacier National Park, Montana

For those looking to venture outside of the U.S. border, Smart Meetings has compiled a great list of international meeting destinations. These spots are equipped to support a wide variety of groups and have been dubbed “meeting-friendly.”

  1. Vienna
  2. Paris
  3. Barcelona
  4. Berlin
  5. Singapore
  6. Madrid
  7. London
  8. Amsterdam
  9. Istanbul
  10. Beijing

Finally, we have a round-up of the top meeting and incentive hotels in the United States from Meetings Net!

  1. The Langham, Chicago
  2. Omni Nashville Hotel
  3. Quad Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
  4. El Encanto, Santa Barbara, California
  5. The Godfrey Hotel, Chicago
  6. Manhattan Park Hyatt
  7. Salamander Resort & Spa, Middleburg, Va.
  8. Andaz Maui at Wailea
  9. Ace Hotel, Los Angeles
  10. Delano Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Have you been to any of these cities? Do you agree with the rankings? We’d love to hear your feedback!

(For more travel updates from A&M Meeting and Incentives, please visit us on Facebook and Twitter!)

The Honest Company Cares for Families [Corporate Conscious Wednesday]

jessica alba and christopher gavigan
As parents themselves, co-founders Christopher Gavigan and Jessica Alba created The Honest Company because they recognized the need for a children’s products company that is trustworthy and honestly safe. Taking tips from environmental health research, the Honest Company creates stylish, non-toxic products that parents can trust.

Products are affordable and save families time and energy with online order and
delivery!

honest products the honest company

What makes Honest really unique is their transparency to customers. When you look at their website and blog, you can feel a sense of compassion and understanding. These people know what they’re talking about because they’ve lived it. Click on a video and you can actually hear the co-founders’ voices describing their goals for the company, and I think that connection alone makes them successful. The Honest Company is also not shy about responding to customer feedback. In fact, they’ve recently made their baby wipes thicker and softer based on specific requests from customers!

the honest company

The Honest Company is very invested in their social media. They have over 92, 000 Facebook fans and a decorated Pinterest profile to match. These create great avenues for open communication with customers and are part of what makes The Honest Company so honest!

READ MORE: The Honest Company B Corp Profile

Choosing an All-Inclusive Hotel

Ok, we know you’ve all struggled with the decision whether or not to go all-inclusive. Is it worth it? Is it really all-inclusive? Maybe your drinks are included by your tennis lessons aren’t. So, here’s a quick guide to help you decide, courtesy of Smart Meetings.

Benefits of All-Inclusive

Location. All-inclusive venues are usually either located near gorgeous, exotic beaches or tucked away in private areas, like mountains. These places can afford to be all-inclusive because they are popular destinations, so it may be worth your money to choose a location that is nice to look at.

Great for budgeting. If everything is included, you can really stretch your dollars and take advantage of everything the hotel has to offer. Also, hosting private events on location becomes cheaper than it would cost for a noninclusive hotel.

Saves time. For someone who doesn’t have time to sit down and plan activities, meals, and events for a large group of people with varied interests, all-inclusives are a huge weight lifter for planners.

Relaxation. Without the stress of carrying wallets or finding transportation to off-site dinners, guests are able to relax a little more. Everything is obtained a little easier, so guests get a greater sense of satisfaction.

Networking. When groups stay in such close quarters, individuals are more inclined to network and meet one-on-one with coworkers to discuss ideas or even just to chat, creating a great group dynamic that lasts beyond the trip.

Green. Large all-inclusive hotels are often easier on the environment because they are more equipped to handle large groups and use their energy wisely.

Potential Drawbacks to All-Inclusive

Work may suffer. By sending employees to an exotic location, you may find it difficult to pry them away from the pool and free drinks to get any work done.

Stuck in one place. Part of staying at an all-inclusive hotel is having everything contained in one place. If your group is likely to want to venture outside of the hotel, you may want to make other plans.

Inability to customize. All-inclusive packages often don’t allow the switching of events or meal options because they are catering to the masses and have to satisfy large groups of people. Also, an all-inclusive package may come with benefits, such as nature walks or yoga classes, that your group may not be interested in, making the all-inclusive package appear wasteful.

Not enough time. On the other hand, let’s say you love every option included in the all-inclusive package. Between your scheduled activities and small bouts of free time, you may not have time to take advantage of every offering and may leave the hotel having paid for unused benefits.

The buffet. All-inclusive venues make meals for large groups on a daily basis, so the best way to do so is often by providing a buffet for guests. Based on your group’s preferences and prior experiences, they may not be used to buffet-style meals and may end up disliking the experience.


Other things to consider when deciding on an all-inclusive package

  • Do any of your guests have certain food allergies that aren’t supported by buffet-style meals?
  • Do any of your guests have specific mobility needs that a large all-inclusive resort cannot support?
  • Does your group like to be adventurous or will they enjoy spending time solely at the hotel?

To conclude, all-inclusive deals can be very handy for certain groups and a hassle for others. Most importantly, when planning a trip, you must consider your group specifically and whether the package will cater to their needs and wants. Then, decide if the all-inclusive hotel is worthwhile based on what is specifically being offered to you. All there’s left to do now is relax and enjoy your stay!

Did this list help YOU decide? Leave your feedback below!
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London 2012: Most Sustainable Olympic Games To Date [Corporate Conscious Wednesday]

Okay, so we’re cheating a bit on this week’s Corporate Conscious Wednesday post. This week, we feature not a company working to alleviate social and environmental struggle but an entire event. We mean, of course, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England!

olympics

It was London’s goal to create the most sustainable Olympics yet, and they’ve happily achieved that with the 2012 Summer Olympics. In the areas of greener structures, eco-friendly packaging for food (Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are two stand-out brands adhering to the Olympics’ guidelines), and facilitated transportation to Olympic events, London has done its part in the movement toward more sustainable Games.

Of course, there is some controversy on the “green-ness” of the London Olympics. For instance, though bikes and fuel-efficient taxis have been in use for transportation throughout London, the Games draw spectators from all over the world who will use less-efficient means of transportation to actually get into the city. Even if goals were not entirely met, the efforts of this year’s Games have set the bar for further improvement.

Have you seen some of the buildings at the Olympics this year? Both well-designed and functional, here’s a quick list of the 6 most sustainable structures of the 2012 Summer Olympics. (Wish I could see these in person!)

velopark

The 6000-seat London Velodrome uses natural ventilation and minimal artificial light in its structure, and as part of the Velopark bicycling center, the Velodrome houses a sleek curved track within similarly sleek walls of wood paneling.

london basketball arena olympics

Next, the Basketball Arena makes its mark by being the Olympics’ largest temporary venue. Designed specifically to be taken down and reused (possibly in the next 4 years for the 2016 Summer Olympics!)

Aquatic centre

There’s more to the Aquatic Centre than it’s appropriately constructed wave-inspired ceilings.  It was made of precast concrete, allowing builders to reduce emissions during construction. Also, the stands are made of recyclable products and most of the materials used to construct the interior of the building were delivered by train, keeping transportation emissions at a minimum.

copper box london

Shining like a new penny, lighting efficiency, rainwater harvesting structures, and recycled copper materials make the “Copper Box” a sustainable treasure of the Olympic Games. Called “one of the most interesting and sustainable Olympic venues,” this building will lend itself to local community events after the Olympics come to a close.

olympic shooting rangeThen, we have the Shooting Ranges at the Royal Artillery Barracks. These venues were built temporarily for the Games and are meant to be recycled at the end of the summer. If they didn’t look strange enough next to the Royal Artillery Barracks’ 200-year old frame, the Shooting Ranges feature various openings similar to octopus suckers that are used to ease natural ventilation throughout the structure!

energy centreThe Energy Centre rounds out this list (as it should!). Jokingly called “the least sexy of the Olympic venues,” the Energy Centre is a LEGO-like building used to provide heat, water, and power to the this year’s Olympics. This crucial structure can increase its capacity as needed by the city.

READ MORE: Awesome Olympics-themed evaluation of London’s green efforts!

So, what do YOU think of labeling London as the “Most Sustainable Olympics?”

According to GreenBiz, London will carry the notable title until 2016, when Rio de Janeiro plans to out-green this year’s Games. Hey, the world can only benefit from countries fighting to become most sustainable, right?!

Experience the Joy of Baking with King Arthur Flour [Corporate Conscious Wednesday]

I’m sure this company is not new to most of our readers!

King Arthur Flour is a 200-year old company (America’s oldest) that is 100% employee-owned.

Not every company can survive with complete employee ownership, but King Arthur Flour is thriving. They have a great employee culture that keeps their system running smoothly. Since coming under employee ownership, King Arthur Flour has boosted its revenue and has grown its U.S. availability from 11 states to 50 states. They also hold frequent “town hall” meetings to keep employees well-informed of company strategy and business endeavors.

Named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the Top Small Workplaces of 2008, King Arthur Flour has taken advantage of social media to grow their business into today’s society.

Have you seen this commercial?

King Arthur Flour was recently featured in a Google Plus ad, showcasing both their dedication to community and their love of baking! Called “America’s #1 baking resource” by resident writer, PJ Hamel, King Arthur Flour has used Google Plus to connect with customers. She even hosts a Google Plus hangout to meet fans and teach new recipes!

King Arthur Flour Product BreadTheir commitment to community doesn’t stop there! King Arthur Flour employs a large portion of the local population in Vermont and buys resources in bulk from local distributors. Though they are a national brand, King Arthur Flour values their local ties and wants to continue to support these local businesses.

And on top of that… King Arthur Flour offers its employees 40 hours paid time to volunteer for any non-profit of their choice! WOW! It’s so great to see such distinguished companies giving back to the community.

Proud to be a BCorp company, King Arthur Flour will continue to operate in the future with the goal to be as socially and environmentally responsible as possible.

Dive into the Ethical Ocean: Online Shopping for the Socially-Conscious [Corporate Conscious Wednesday]

Ethical Ocean Turtle Header Own What's GoodEthical Ocean is an online shopping destination that brings brands together for a one-stop, socially-conscious shopping experience. Ethical Ocean splits its product list into three categories: people, animals, and environment. Once you create a profile, you identify which cause is most important to you (i.e. people’s rights) and you have a customized shopping homepage dedicated to your cause of choice! Use their recommendations to guide you to your next purchase or search through their catalog to find what you’re looking for.

Ethical Ocean Style

Just like any other online shopping site, products supported by Ethical Ocean are fashionable, practical, trendy, and interesting! What makes them different is their dedication to helping the planet by promoting ethical products.

The story of how Ethical Ocean became the company it is today is very inspiring. They started off with high expectations of growth and began partnering with many different companies and bringing in thousands of new products. Though this growth was great for profits, Ethical Ocean realized that some of these products didn’t quite live up to their mission—they were made with good intentions, but the quality was still missing. Ethical Ocean knew this would not hold up, so in 2012, they sliced their list of offered brands from 500 to 200, leaving room for only the best of the best. And their productivity didn’t slow one bit.

Ethical Ocean Branding ImageWhen you have shopping to do, check Ethical Ocean first. Their products are great for the socially-conscious shopper looking to make a difference while looking great!

Sign up today.

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