Just Ask For It

We live in a nation that has shied away from placing an importance on the quest for change and the fight for a societal revolution. The feminist and civil rights movements are now a working memory—their waves of change still lapping against the shores of our country’s political system, but their cultural bearing lost on the newer generations. Sure, in recent times there have been smaller-scale movements supporting important causes such as LGBT equality and Suicide Prevention, but nothing that unifies our country in quite the same way as prior revolutions did.

We are becoming lazy. A cause that seems to be “too far gone” or unable to be drastically altered within the immediate future is considered a cause not worth pursuing. One of these causes is the initiative to save our environment. We have yet to join together as a community and vow to make actual change no matter how challenging or discouraging the cause may be.

Who holds the power of influencing change? The government? The youth? The educational system? These outlets may each play a small part in motivating citizens to adopt the cause of promoting sustainability, but their reach is limited. You see, the influence lies within our economy—in businesses, organizations, major corporations, “Mom & Pop” shops, fortune 500 companies, family-owned stores, etc. We need to put pressure on our country’s economic tributaries immediately. No matter how big or small the company, implementing environmental-conscious practices within the workplace can produce results that are tenfold.

So, how do we do it? This is where the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) comes into play. GMIC places a focus on helping businesses organize meetings and incentives that were environmentally friendly and beneficial to both the Earth and the company’s budget. They are unique, economically feasible, and impactive meetings that are easy to plan and organize.

GMIC’s latest campaign is promoting the “Just Ask For It!” movement. This campaign centers on encouraging meeting planners to ask suppliers to provide “Go Green” services for their event. GMIC theorizes that if all companies join together to demand sustainable resources and meetings from their suppliers, the suppliers’ desire to satisfy the planners will drive them to comply. By making “green” a workplace necessity, it will in turn spark global change.

A&M recognizes the importance of this cause and has recently joined forces with GMIC by revitalizing the A&M Meetings & Incentives program to better suit the needs of the environment and customer. A&M now only works with hotels and resorts that promote sustainability and “Going Green.”  Affordable, unique, and easy to plan, the customer is able to choose from five different “green” resorts from five different locations—ranging from an urban to a country setting. Helping the environment and planning an enjoyable business getaway has never been so easy and beneficial to the Earth.

For more information about A&M’s “Go Green” initiative, go to: http://www.aandmtravel.com/events.php

To learn more about GMIC’s “Just Ask For It!” campaign, visit the following link: http://www.gmicglobal.org/?page=APEXRegistry

Don’t Miss Out!

With our July Special, you can receive complimentary sourcing for TWO destinations simply by submitting an RFP to us online! You can access the form by clicking “request info” via our website.

Request Info

The end of July is quickly approaching, so don’t wait!

Innovative Iceland

Andrew Evans of National Geographic Traveler recently tweeted a very interesting fact about an Icelandic city as follows: “All houses in #Reykjavík are heated w/ geothermal energy (hot water flowing thru pipes). Means this is one of the cleanest cities on Earth.” As a sustainable travel enthusiast, it immediately caught my interest. I thought, what’s a better place to plan for a green incentive trip? Talk about off the beaten path…

A large portion of Iceland is sourced by renewable energy, making it one of the greenest locations worldwide to visit. In fact, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability notes how “Reykjavík is home to the largest geothermal heating system in the world.” Impressive, huh? On top of this accomplishment, the energy that isn’t geothermal is hydropower. This city ultimately screams sustainable living, which is why it’s the perfect destination for your next eco-minded incentive adventure.

A quiet island with a breathtaking environment that boasts an entirely efficient way of living; what are you waiting for? Iceland isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind, but it certainly is worth considering.

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!)

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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Couchsurfing: A New Wave of Travel Opportunities [Corporate Conscious Wednesday]

Looking for a way to spend your two weeks vacation this year? While investigating summer travel destinations, I came across this website (and great travel opportunity), Couchsurfing.org! Couchsurfing is a site that allows users to either open up their homes to travelers or to crash on a stranger’s couch in countries all over the world. It makes for a unique travel experience, seeing the world through the eyes of locals, and it is the perfect way to meet new and interesting people you never would have met otherwise!

Once you get over the fact that you’re staying with a complete stranger in a strange town where nobody knows you, this sounds like a lot of fun! And it’s perfect for travel buffs looking to save some money along the way. Now, I’ve read a lot of reviews on Couchsurfing, and it turns out that being afraid of strangers is hardly a concern! Couchsurfing.org has a verification method, where past Couchsurfers can review their hosts and give piece of mind to the next visitors. Basically, if you were in danger, you’d know it. To read one user’s eventful account of their own experience with Couchsurfing, click here.

Saving money  may bring people in, but the experiences and the relationships keep them coming. Couchsurfing.org has recently become a B Corporation, using their worldwide connections to promote social change and tolerance, while giving their members the opportunity to create unique memories with new friends. This makes them a great candidate for B Corp’s “socially responsible business” model. However, there has been a slight controversy over Couchsurfing.org’s becoming a B Corp because the company dynamics have been slightly altered. Click here if you’re interested in getting a little background on the issue. No matter your personal opinion in the debate, you can’t deny the social benefits CouchSurfing brings to those who would prefer to spend their vacation time touring a new place with a trustworthy companion rather than a generic travel book.

My Experience as an Intern at A&M Meetings & Incentives

Interning at A&M has been a rewarding and enriching experience that has contributed to my knowledge of social media sites, travel destinations and the methods of improving worker relationships and inspiring workers. Through my work experience, I have learned about a multitude of destinations, ranging from exotic to family-friendly. These destinations, including South Africa and Indonesia, offer an assortment of activities bound to intrigue diverse groups of people.

Additionally, working at A&M has allowed me to understand how to improve an incentive trip. Planning an incentive trip is all about the activities that are available to the participants; specifically, every destination has something different to offer groups, which is why the choice of location is very important. One trend that I believe is successful is planning out-of-office experiences for employees. More and more, companies are looking to bring people outside of the conference room. This can be done by having employees volunteer within the community or by planning day trips. Another trend gaining popularity aims at engaging employees and incorporating outside input. Companies are using social media sites to get more people involved; companies are asking people to ask questions on twitter and are creating groups where information can be shared and discussed.

Before starting at A&M I did not know much about CSR; despite this, I have quickly learned how influential and how widespread the trend has become. Companies today are increasingly looking to become more responsible both socially and environmentally. “Going green” is another trend that I have learned more about during my time at A&M. Companies all over the world are looking to implement ecofriendly practices as a means of cutting down on production costs, attracting customers and improving the environment.

I have been rewarded with a lot of great opportunities at A&M and have truly gained a lot of knowledge about improving meetings, travel and current business trends.

– Olivia

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.