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Conscious Conferencing

Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch coined the phrase ‘Conscious Conferencing’. Des Langkilde investigates this claim and finds it to be more than just a marketing ploy – it’s an historical commitment to environmentally and socially responsible practices.

Following my Spier Venue Review in April, and Check List for Eco-Conference Venue Selection article in May, I Googled the words ‘Conscious Conferencing’ and found that Spier dominates the top position (top 3 out of 430,000 results). Intrigued by this result, I downloaded their CONSCIOUS CONFERENCE PACKAGE sales manual and headed off to meet with Angela Lorimer – Head of Conferencing and Eventing, and Mark Bland – Brand Manager: Leisure at Spier.

I asked how Spier justifies its ‘Conscious Conferencing’ claim.

“As one of the very first farms to be established in Stellenbosch in 1692, Spier has a long history – not just in viticulture, but also in farming with biodynamic principles in mind. We manage almost 300 hectares under biodynamic agricultural practices, and our ethically produced meat and vegetables are used in our farm-to-table eating experiences in our restaurants, picnic baskets and of course at our conference venues,” says Mark.

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“At Spier we constantly strive to find innovative ways for our business to succeed in balance with our environment and society. We call our approach to events ‘Conscious Conferencing’. By hosting your event at Spier, you’ll be helping us to uplift our communities, support local businesses, contribute to staff wellness and benefit our environment – all the while treating your delegates to a great experience,” adds Angela.

Talking to this pair of enthusiastic managers while reclining in the hotel lounge, and seated beside a roaring log fire with creamy expresso in hand, it becomes obvious that they are both passionate and proud of their respective products and service offerings at Spier.

Steering the conversation back to the conference side, I discover that since re-launching the conference and event facilities in 2008, a great deal of effort has gone into conserving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

This has been achieved by providing alternatives to traditional conference facilities, such as using ceiling fans instead of air conditioners, providing bulk mineral water dispensers to encourage delegates to refill their own glass water bottles, and providing clearly marked bins for recyclable and non recyclable items.

In addition, Spier contributes to the local community by offering a service to conference organisers whereby they can purchase their corporate gift selections from recommended local craft associations, and donate left-over pens and notepads to schools in the area.

The conference menu selections include onsite farmed and locally produced fresh, seasonal and organic food, while leftover food is distributed to the local community.

Leaving the comfort of Spier Hotel, and the company of my hosts, I took a quick guided tour of the conference venues. Spier has 12 different meeting venues varying in capacity – from the Conference Centre to the historic Manor House, Spier can cater for large and small conferences, business meetings, workshops, seminars and exhibitions. All this on a historic wine farm, just 40 minutes from Cape Town. For more information on each of the conference venues, click here.

After arriving back at my faithful iMac desktop, I opened the interactive CONSCIOUS CONFERENCE PACKAGE sales manual, which really is a very useful tool for conference, event and exhibition planners. The PDF brochure contains everything that one would need for planning, including video links, full day and half day conference package rates, accommodation rates, food, wine, leisure (spa and craft market) and activities, and detailed specifications with seating capacities at each of the fourteen venues.

Download Spier’s Conscious Conference package here.

For more information visit www.spier.co.za

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