For drive-to venues, here’s what to know

Are meeting professionals part of the global warming problem, or are they part of the solution? The very question is kind of a gobsmacker, isn’t it? Working to mount ever more environmentally friendly meetings and events has been an industry priority. Yet in one area—transportation—we’re still a big red flag.

You already know why. The two main modes of transport our attendees use to come to our increasingly green meetings are huge carbon emitters. Airplanes contribute about 4% to human-induced global warming, according to recent research—which is more than most countries do.

Our personal vehicles have had no better story to tell: “Collectively, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. emissions, emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gasses for every gallon of gas. About five pounds comes from the extraction, production and delivery of the fuel, while the great bulk of heat-trapping emissions—more than 19 pounds per gallon—comes right out of a car’s tailpipe.” That’s from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The two main modes of transport our attendees use to come to our increasingly green meetings are huge carbon emitters.”

Yet change is undeniably on the road. By 2030, some 300 million electric cars will be driving us to a greener future, forecasts the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, and they will account for more than 60% of new car sales (compared to 4.6% in 2020). Today, over 10 million EVs are already in service globally. They won’t all be Teslas. Every major carmaker is heading for an electrified horizon.

Read More: Advito and BCD M&E Create Emissions Calculator for Meeting Professionals

Now, that horizon is not without its smudgy clouds. We’ll also have to get rid of electric power plants fired by fossil fuels (or, worse, coal), and convert them to sourcing from the renewable grid. But let’s focus on what you can do, and need to know.

Drive-to meetings have not been more popular since the advent of air travel for business. This summer, some attendees opted out of flying in favor of road trips of up to a whole day’s journey, figuring this could be a much less frustrating time commitment than the morass of flight cancellations and schedule cutbacks. Continuing Covid concerns about flying by some companies have added to the popularity of the highway.

So, that means it’s time to put EV chargers on your venue checklist. And to know how to evaluate the EV readiness of the venues you source.

The hotel brand that leads the way in chargers worldwide is Holiday Inn, which has installed them at nearly 800 locations. Most other hospitality companies are following that lead. “In my opinion, every new hotel either on the drawing board or under construction should access the [maximum] number of EV charging stations, not only for today, but providing for the future,” Jim Vogt, CEO of Mid-Cour EV Charge, a leading provider of charging systems, recently told Green Lodging News.

“Many municipalities are beginning to implement ordinances requiring all new construction to provide for EV charging stations. Included within the ordinance is a ‘formula’ that determines the number of EV charging stations that must be installed.”

A final word of advice: Promote the ease and availability of EV chargers to your prospective attendees. Data shows EV drivers will be more likely to make the trip.

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EV Qs for RFPs

  1. What is the number and type of chargers? There are three standard charging types, the difference being the speed of charging. All electric cars can be charged with Level 1 and 2 stations. Level 3 chargers (also known as DCFC or fast stations) are much more powerful and quick.
  2. Does the proposed venue have Tesla adapters or will your attendees have to provide them? Only Teslas can be charged at charging stations the company has installed at many major hotels, unless the non-Tesla (Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt or whatever) uses an adapter.
  3. Is there a fee for charging; if so, can you negotiate it away? Marriott International, for example, which currently has more than 3,137 Level 2 charging stations installed at its hotels—some have only one, others a dozen or more—offer this as a free service at most locations, but not all (unless the guest is a member of Bonvoy rewards program). According to the website EV Roadtrips, charging fees at hotels can range from $5-$30 a day. Tesla chargers are always free for its cars (per agreement with Tesla for their installation), but not necessarily for other brands using an adaptor for charging.
  4. Will your attendees need to reserve charger time? This is happening more at major hotels as EVs grow in popularity. One way this is handled is for parking valets to shuttle cars to chargers for 4-6 hours at a time.

This article appears in the October 2022 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.