Whether it’s leaving a smaller footprint or helping those in need, meeting and incentive groups are finding an ever-increasing number of ways to have a positive effect on the places they visit around Mexico. Call it voluntourism, call it CSR or simply call it doing good—the results can be rewarding for participants, organizers and the destination itself.
Many properties, as well as local DMCs and tourism offices, have also made it easier than ever for meeting planners to include CSR components in their programs. Here are a variety of noteworthy options from around Mexico.
Los Cabos CSR Opportunities
“Incorporating CSR into your next meeting or incentive program is a sustainable and memorable way to collectively bring attendees together in the aid of those in need,” said Paola Quintero, Los Cabos operations manager at Meeting Incentive Experts, a Chicago-based meeting and event company.
Baby Sea Turtle, Acapulco | Credit: Acapulco CVB
“Increasing in popularity is either substituting or adding in a CSR option, in addition to other activities that may be offered to attendees during their program,” Quintero said. “With the expertise of your local DMC, they can help create and define a CSR that is fiscally responsible for the client organization and supportive of the local community where it will take place.”
Among the CSR success stories from Meeting Incentive Experts is its collaboration with Casa Hogar, a home in Los Cabos for children who live under the care of child protection agencies. Planners can encourage donations and also pool donations for a larger purchase that can be presented by the group during a visit to the facility.
A representative from Casa Hogar can attend event registration to provide information to attendees. Planners can also invite the children to one of their own on-site events, or participate in garden beautification, painting and other work at the home.
Acapulco CSR Opportunities
“Acapulco is a fantastic destination for groups to contribute back to the local community and the environment, as the result of their contributions can be seen immediately,” said Ernesto Rodriguez Escalona, secretary of tourism for the state of Guerrero. “Not only does the destination have top-notch meetings infrastructure, but it also offers an array of activities of all sorts ideal for groups.”
Beach Cleanup, Royalton Riviera Cancun | Credit: Royalton Resorts
Among the group volunteer options in Acapulco is participation in baby sea turtle release programs, which take place from May to October. Local hotels and DMCs can also arrange for groups to join reforestation projects and other activities.
Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit CSR Opportunities
In Puerto Vallarta, an excellent example of CSR success comes from BCD Meetings & Events, which helped its client, Goodyear, to organize an incentive trip that included the hands-on construction of a new playground for an underprivileged school.
“It was a unique experience,” said Martin Rosales, Goodyear’s managing director in Mexico. “We will never forget it. We worked with North American distributors to provide a better future for those little kids.”
The region that spans from the Riviera Nayarit in the north to Puerto Vallarta in the south is filled with opportunities for volunteer activities.
Richard Zarkin, public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit CVB, said his destination is especially well positioned to offer rewarding programs.
“Groups of all sizes and occasions, from large corporate functions to more intimate teambuilding retreats, visit Mexico’s pacific treasure for the opportunity to give back, set against a backdrop of unfiltered natural beauty,” he said. “Visitors and meeting planners alike appreciate how the distinct destinations of Riviera Nayarit, along with world-class resorts and a robust infrastructure, lend themselves to a chance to engage in singular corporate social responsibility experiences.”
Among the many nonprofit organizations that work with corporate groups in Riviera Nayarit is Entre Amigos, a community center where volunteers can help teach art, music, computer skills and English, as well as tend to gardens and help to plan and execute special events like workshops and children’s art exhibits.
Club Med Cancun Yucatan | Credit: Club Med Cancun
At Fundacion Punta Mita, a member of the Alliance of Community Foundations of Mexico, groups can help promote everything from environmental awareness to education to physical fitness, with programs that include team sponsorships, public school support and other community projects.
Cancun/Riviera Maya CSR Opportunities
Cancun, Riviera Maya and Cozumel are all chock full of opportunities for meeting and incentive groups to do good.
InterContinental Hotel Groups (IHG) offers a variety of noteworthy options in the region. At Presidente InterContinental Cozumel, for example, groups can work with a DMC called Mexico Planners to make pinatas and deliver them personally to a local orphanage, or paint and beautify public ball courts.
At Presidente InterContinental Cancun, groups can team up with Voluntrek, a volunteer and CSR organization, for activities that include reforestation projects and children’s recreation programs.
Club Med Cancun Yucatan also offers a variety of CSR activities, including beach and lagoon cleanups and sea turtle educational sessions led by a staff member certified by a local ecological organization. The resort also partners with local organizations that provide clothing to needy children. Meeting planners can contact the Club Med Foundation for details and assistance in setting up programs.
The upscale resort complex called Mayakoba is a hot spot for groups looking to give back.
“We understand the importance of generating social investment that permeates the local community,” said Ramiro Munoz, CSR manager at Banyan Tree Mayakoba.
Munoz noted that Banyan Tree partners with an exceptionally extensive array of organizations, with CSR objectives including providing shelter for dogs, protecting marine turtles, planting trees, helping local schools for underprivileged children and assisting children with autism and cancer.
Nearby, the Rosewood Mayakoba helps guests to make donations and interact with students at Centro Educativo K’iin Beh, a school established by the hotel for children of employees and locals.
At Andaz Mayakoba, meanwhile, groups can become “reef guardians” to plant new live coral colonies, or donate bottle lids to raise funds for Kodomo, a local autism organization. Groups staying at Fairmont Mayakoba can participate in its Pack for a Purpose project, which invites them to pack donations for groups including Save the Children, which operates community centers in the region, and Playa Animal Rescue, a nonprofit, non-kill organization that rescues and rehabilitates stray dogs.
In Cancun, groups staying at Panama Jack Resorts Cancun can arrange a visit to the nearby Melipona Maya Foundation, a bee farm that helps to preserve Mayan beekeeping traditions. And in Tulum, smaller groups can check into Casa Violeta, a wellness-oriented boutique property that connects guests with Movida Maya, an organization through which participants can teach skills like music, art and English to local students.
Around Mexico CSR Opportunities
Destinations large and small around the nation can provide myriad ways for groups to have a positive effect on the places they visit. A DMC called Destination Mexico organizes programs in several of the nation’s largest cities. In Mexico City, for example, the company offers customized programs that benefit Fundacion Pro Ninos de la Calle, which provides services to children in need, and Fundacion Casa Alianza Mexico, which helps youth who have problems with drug addiction and exploitation.
In the nation’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, Destination Mexico can arrange for meeting and incentive groups to assist organizations including Fundacion Dibujando un Manana, which helps needy children, and the Civil Hospital Foundation of Guadalajara, which supports poor patients.
Hotels in Guadalajara are adept at connecting meeting planners with rewarding CSR experiences, such as the Presidente InterContinental Guadalajara, which can organize arts and crafts workshops led by an organization that helps women who rely on these activities to support their families. Groups can also make donations of toys and pinatas to children with cancer, muscular dystrophy and other afflictions.
The city of Monterrey serves up still more opportunities. Destination Mexico coordinates fundraising and volunteer activities for groups interested in helping organizations like Effeta, which aids children with learning disabilities.
In the state of Yucatan, a DMC called SAT Mexico has created customized CSR programs around the region. For an HP event, for example, the company organized a spouse’s outing to Chichen Itza, followed by a visit to a Mayan village, where the group delivered donated goods to a local school.
“It was a very emotional event,” said Miguel Woolfolk, SAT Mexico’s commercial manager. “The children were very grateful, many participants broke into tears.
"We spent two hours more than planned, sharing time with the community," he added.
Mexico CVB Contact Information
Mexico Tourism Board
Cozumel Tourist Promotion Board
Huatulco Hotel Association
Los Cabos Tourism Board
Mazatlan Tourism Board
Mexico City Secretary of Tourism
Michoacan Secretary of Tourism
Oaxaca State Tourism Office
Puebla Secretary of Culture and Tourism
Puerto Vallarta CVB
Riviera Maya Tourism Board
Riviera Nayarit CVB
San Luis Potosi Secretary of Tourism
Yucatan Secretary of Tourism
Zacatecas Secretary of Tourism