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2011 Innovators: JoAnna Abrams, CEO, MindClick SGM

With the fragmented nature of purchasing in the hospitality industry, JoAnna Abrams and her team at MindClick SGM, a firm specializing in sustainable growth management, recognized the difficulties suppliers face when trying to convey the sustainability of their products to hotels. Similarly, hoteliers face the same challenges when attempting to portray their hotels as sustainable to guests and meeting planners. With that in mind, MindClick set out to gather suppliers in the industry to create the Hospitality Sustainable Purchasing Consortium (HSPC), which is developing a sustainable scorecard to make it easier for hotels to recognize products that can help them “green” their hotels and prove that to their guests.

“Many suppliers have engaged in sustainable efforts, and they’re having a difficult time getting beyond greenwashing that’s out there and, more importantly, showing their customers what is meant by sustainability,” Abrams says.

HSPC is out to change that. With the help of key suppliers in the hospitality industry it is creating a scorecard, or index, which is a Web-based, industry-wide purchasing database that comprehensively measures and reports on the corporate social responsibility, environmental, and product sustainability performance of suppliers.

“The challenge has been that there are many products that are not necessarily aligned with LEED because they are not part of the building structure, yet those are the products that ultimately have the most impact on improving the quality of the guest experience,” Abrams says. “There needs to be a way to align sustainability so you ultimately can improve guest satisfaction while improving the operating efficiencies and environmental impact at hotel properties.”

While the index, which is currently being evaluated and is expected to go into beta testing next year, isn’t meant to be a “standard” it does give hoteliers a performance measurement scorecard to make sustainable purchasing easier. “It’s a way to align performance with what matters most to customers,” Abrams says.

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