High-End Meetings with a Conscience

Groups seeking opportunities to hold meetings that make the world a better place are in luck: Last month, hoteliers Fairmont and Ritz-Carlton each introduced programs for this purpose.

Fairmont debuted its Meetings that Matter program, in which planners can donate 10 percent of a function's room revenue to a chosen charity or one supported by the hotelier. And Ritz-Carlton, which launched a very similar effort to Fairmont's just three months ago, added VolunTeaming, a combination of volunteer and teambuilding activities.

At 54 properties worldwide, Meetings that Matter is available to planners booking and holding a meeting this year or next year that requires a minimum of 50 room nights. Those with budgetary concerns have another option: The hotel will earmark 10 percent of a meeting's revenue as credit toward a future meeting held at the same property by December 2010.

"We wanted to take our commitment to social responsibility one step further and create another opportunity for guests to make a meaningful contribution," said Jeff Doane, Fairmont's vice president of hotel sales. "Meeting planners and groups have responded enthusiastically to our green meeting efforts, through our Eco-Meet program."

Meetings that Matter is subject to hotel availability and applicable only to new programs. It is not valid for citywides and can't be combined with special offers.

Meanwhile, at Ritz-Carlton, groups can choose from two-hour activities all the way up to full-day events that enhance the local community. Options include harvesting crops that are donated to a local food bank, working with park rangers in Boston Harbor Islands National Park, and more. For more information, go to www.volunteaming.com.

Originally published Aug. 11, 2008