On Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): What, how, & why we love it

CSR is the talk of the town of recent, and slowly but surely businesses are jumping on board to this new trend. With that said, the term is thrown around a whole lot, and while you may contribute to it’s reach, are you entirely aware of the meaning and what it involves?

Allow us to briefly elaborate. CSR incorporates social consciousness that extends from personal aspects like corporate citizenship to environmental means such as “going green”. In an effort to achieve this recognition, businesses may encourage team volunteer projects, green meetings, and sustainable incentive trips. Now, this is where we come in, and why we love CSR so much.

Successful companies promote employee involvement. By that we mean team bonding, efficient meetings, and friendly events beyond the professional field. And, we are here for just that. The planning. The nitty-gritty details that make many cringe. We do that. And guess what. We enjoy it. But, there’s more. What’s so special about your next corporate meeting or incentive trip if it’s not eco-conscious? In this day and age, with the extent of knowledge that people have acquired over the years, we owe loads of respect to our natural environment. It sustains us, so why shouldn’t we sustain it?

Not sure where to start? Well, the first step would be to come to us. From there you can let us know what you’re looking for – the destination you’re dreaming of, the type of team engagement your seeking. Below are a few examples of what we mean here at A&M.

Remember that culinary incentive trip to Italy featured on the blog several months back? Well, that option certainly still exists. Or how about taking a volunteer trip in South America? Talk about rewarding. If you’re looking for the ultimate relaxation in the sun, head to the Virgin Islands; St. John has some serious green thinking on their minds that we are thrilled to work with.

Rooftop solar panels in St. JohnThe options are endless, and that’s what makes incorporating CSR into planning so exciting! For more information on what we mean and how we promote our own social consciousness, visit our website!

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What an Incentive!

Italy. Food. Bonding. What’s not to like?

A major part of being an effective team is maintaining the ability to cooperate with one another both inside and outside of the workplace. Bonding over fun and stress-free activities help to aquaint coworkers as well as develop relationships beyond the professional arena.

So that’s bonding, but what about Italy and food? They are both relevant, I promise. According to Flavor of Italy, cuisine related team building helps to boost morale, foster solidarity and collaboration, break down barriers, build new relationships at work with both customers and colleagues, improve time management skills, stimulate problem solving skills, as well as enhance creativity. Think about it: tradition has it that meals are not solely about the food, but also the social aspect of sitting down with others to enjoy a shared delicacy.

Italy Countryside

Now, let’s talk the real fun stuff. Flavor of Italy offers Corporate Culinary Team Building that facilitate this social sharing. The options? Try out the “Fusion Cooking Team Building” which divides participants into teams that will create an Italian fusion meal with international ingredients. If this doesn’t strike your appetite (yes, pun intended), look into the “Recipe & Meal Creation Event”. Teams gather their own ingredients to make a meal that will be rated based upon originality, taste, presentation, speed of preparation, cost, and sustainability (bonus!). Not into the cooking idea? Opt for the wine tasting event that provides various samples of reds and whites to participants, which are then randomly resampled by the same group in an attempt to identify the most correctly. Have a different event in mind? Flavor of Italy notes how if that’s the case, simply ask them about it! They are more than happy to accommodate specific interests.

Wine

These options are among the activities offered by Flavor of Italy to foster both team building as well as the enhancement of an equally amiable and professional work ethic. “Getting the job done” is no more important than setting time aside to create relationships with coworkers. In fact, the latter is often necessary for an effective completion of the former.

It’s also vital to recognize that Flavor of Italy promotes and practices culinary responsibility in each of their programs. They state, “Culinary sustainability is an increasingly important part of our lives as the world we live in becomes more global, resources become more scarce, and we face important issues such as recycling of our ever-increasing waste and GMOs.” Despite indulging in some of Italy’s finest, Flavor of Italy’s policies can alleviate your team’s concerns about leaving the “green”.

Check out Flavor of Italy’s blog for some more information and updates!

Where to: Retirement destinations

Aside

Retirement.

This may be a daunting term for some, so allow me to rephrase: Retirement abroad.

Talk about moving on to bigger (or smaller, perhaps) and better things. Recently, TopsRetirement.com posted an article sharing their thoughts on the 10 best international places to retire. Whereas the typical creation of such a list is built upon affordability and beauty, TopsRetirement.com focused on, “stable governments; low crime rates; the ability to mix with ordinary people; great food, wine, and culture; and 1st world dependability and bureaucracies.” What I find the most appealing about each of the following places in that there is an appreciation for a sustainable and environmentally friendly way of life.

1. Ireland. Land of (understood) language, culture, and countryside activity.

2. France. It would be nice to start off the day with a platter of renowned cheeses and fresh baguette, wouldn’t it?

3. Spain (coastal). Warm and sunny winters, anyone?

4. Italy. The great outdoors, food, and some more food.

5. Costa Rica. The picturesque hub of eco-tourism.

6. Croatia. Affordable and (in my opinion) underrated.

7. New Zealand. A perfect mix of ultimate adventure and quaintness. Oh, and The Lord of the Rings.

8. Panama. Lunch break on the beach in the middle of January, sure thing.

9. Mexico. Perhaps a surprise for some to see on the list, but you must remember: this beautiful country is not all bad!

10. Ecuador (Ceunca): Why not take to a lower-cost and friendly environment?

I mentioned how each of these locations may appeal to our ecofriendly senses. How so? Skip the car and hop on a bike to cruise Ireland’s quiet towns, Tuscany’s lush countryside, or for some sustainable exercise before delving into France’s fresh market delicacies. Off to the sunniest of destinations? Inquire about solar panels on your Spanish villa or Latin American beach house. Or, how about opting for open windows to allow for a natural cross ventilation in lou of constant air conditioning? An added bonus: a calming (and free) beach aroma.

The options are endless for outdoor activity in these 10 countries. Seeking to truly live your life to its fullest? This list includes places that encourage individuals to get onto their feet for a happier, healthier, and environmentally-conscious lifestyle.

For more on each location, check out the article on Topsretirement.com or Marketwatch.com (photo source).

Popular Landmarks and Your Next Incentive Trip or Meeting

We know that planning an incentive trip can be exhausting so we are here to give you some help and share some great ideas! Traveling across the world to cities like Rome and London are really unique experiences. Rome, one of Italy’s most famous cities, offers travelers the opportunity to take in ancient sites and priceless artwork, while London boasts great sightseeing and beautiful architecture.

 Trips to Rome can offer a wide variety of activities for every personality. The Colosseum, completed in the year  A.D. 82, allows visitors to experience and learn about the rich culture of the ancient Romans. At this 513-foot amphitheater guests discover the brutal world that the gladiators fought in and explore artifacts and other remnants of the Colosseum’s past. A ticket to the Colosseum also allows entrance into the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum area, making this ticket very worthwhile.

Just a twenty minute walk from the Colosseum is Vatican City, which offers a different side of Rome, one that is beautiful and unique to people of all religions. To see Vatican City at its best, skip the large line at St. Peter’s Basilica and pre-book your tickets or pay for a tour, which is worth its price. This ticket, similarly to the ticket at the Colosseum, permits entrance to other sites, including the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. These sites offer memorable experiences for everyone. Everything from the sheer size of St. Peter’s Basilica to the artwork in the Vatican museum will supply a plethora of activities. The Vatican museum alone has so much art that it would be nearly impossible to see it all in a week. Seeing paintings up close in the Sistine Chapel along with other works from Michelangelo and Rapheal will be an experiences unlike any other.

Another location abroad that holds some of the world’s most popular and entertaining landmarks is London. This city, home to the 2012 Summer Olympics, is where Big Ben and the Swiss Re Building can be found. London is a vibrant city that offers a wide variety of sightseeing opportunities like the London eye, where you can take in a view of the whole city. From up there, decide if you want to go explore the exceptional architecture of the Houses of Parliament, the British museum, or the London Tower. Additionally, London is a great place for shopping, entertainment, food, and the many pubs that provide an exciting nightlife. No matter what you choose to do on your incentive trip, you can find something for everyone in London.

If you think that abroad may be too far to travel, there are plenty of great cities in the United States that are worth visiting, like Chicago and San Francisco. Chicago is home to great places, people, and cuisine. Chicago’s Millennium Park is a great place to relax or explore; the park is home to a multitude of art sculptures, gardens and trails for biking. Good food can be found almost anywhere in the “Windy City” – one of our favorites is Gino’s East where the deep-dish pizza is one of a kind.

San Francisco is another great place celebrated for its food and landmarks. Enjoy the beautiful weather on a walk or bike around the harbor and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re looking to learn about one of America’s most famous prisons and get picturesque views of San Francisco, take the ferry to Alcatraz. The tour of the prison is interesting and definitely memorable. For San Francisco’s best food you have a lot of choices, but if we had to suggest one place to stop by it would be the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory located right on the San Francisco Bay.

An Incentive Trip to Florence!

Looking to plan a meeting or an incentive trip? Why not plan it to Florence, Italy? This city, which is paved in cobble stones, is filled with intertwining streets that transport people back in time. Florence has numerous museums which hold some of the greatest works from the Renaissance period. Additionally, Florence offers the very best of Italy: the food, the wine, the gelato, the coffee shops, and the welcoming natives.

If you are looking to bring a group closer together there are a range of activities that Florence has to offer. One of these activities is cooking. Getting groups involved in cooking lessons is both enjoyable and beneficial to group bonding. Taking a cooking class is one way that people can come together and experience working as a team. Exploring the wide variety of museums and churches is an additional way to strengthen group relationships. Activities can be planned around the various attractions including the statue of David, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, and the Doumo. As a group, dine around the awe inspiring statue of David, visit the multitude of shops lining the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, or even take the ascent to the top of the Doumo to see the panoramic views of Florence.

With the vast possibilities that the city of Florence has to offer it is unlikely that you will have to look elsewhere for activities, but if you do, Sienna and Venice are only short train rides away. Enjoy the simplistic beauty of a gondola ride throughout the canals of Venice; or if you choose, take a trip to Sienna where group wine tastings can offer a pleasurable experience for all.

While cities like Florence and Venice allow visitors to experience some of the cultural wonders of Italy, they additionally allow guests to feel good about the eco-friendly practices that the cities’ support. These cities are built for people to walk through, allowing inhabitants the opportunity to see the atheistically pleasing sights of the city while being eco-friendly.