How to... organise a more responsible event

As the economic crisis recedes, sustainability is once again on the agenda

How to organise a more responsible event
How to organise a more responsible event

'Greenwashing' may have given sustainability a bad name, but the issue has now come back on the agenda after two years of economic crisis.

Recycling boxes are in the lobby, local food is served at lunch and the organisers have spent their spare moments painting a homeless shelter, but do delegates and clients care?

Clear business drivers

Yes, says Barclays associate director of sustainability Kathryn Mintoft, who believes there are "very clear business drivers" for taking the issue seriously. "It comes down to expectations," she says. "People do get very irritated with wasted money and resources."

While sustainability often goes hand in hand with an environmental theme, the idea of securing economic and social stability has grown.

Seventeen Events founder Louise Davies says there has been a resurgence of interest in sustainability, partially driven by the message of saving money.She prefers the term 'responsible events', however, as sustainability is overused. "Probe your suppliers," urges Davies. "And think about the social side as well."

Seventeen Events works with social enterprise Connection Crew for its staffing requirements, with profits going to charity. The business employs 25 per cent of its staff through an employment support programme for ex-homeless people.

Evidence

Innovision also took this approach when organising the London 2012 Business Summit on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills last year, using some staff employed through the Personal Best skills programme.

DRP Group managing director Dale Parmenter says that, increasingly, clients are not willing to accept unproven statements. "Clients all want evidence of what you are doing," he says. "It is everything from online registration to recycling."

Thomas Cook, Sainsbury's, Monster.com and Lloyds are all advocates of a sustainable approach, adds Parmenter, and he believes that will increase as the economic clouds clear.

Indeed, corporate event planners from brands including Credit Suisse, Barclays and Shell met to discuss the issues at a Council of Protocol Executives forum this autumn.

Council of Protocol Executives

Credit Suisse co-regional head EMEA of corporate events Jenny Farman says the business has achieved the standard ISO14001, and reports on its activities every quarter. "We don't send hard copy invitations or confirmations and name badges and signs are reused," she says. "I have to prove the number of online registrants and the information feeds back into the business."

Meanwhile, Shell senior marketing and events manager Keri McBurney says she has pushed the notion of using memory sticks for delegate documents, rather than printed brochures. "We don't want the story of build and burn on our shoulders," she explains.

Transport can be one of the biggest impacts, according to Seventeen's Davies, who recommends incentivising delegates to travel by public transport by offering discounts on paid events.

Measuring ROI

Organise This director Fiona Pelham says measuring ROI is a good way of ensuring the economic viability, while monitoring staff training and hours can be a useful way of tracking the social aspect.

Global Reporting Initiative guidelines specifically tailored for the events industry are being compiled by an international working group and will be published in summer 2011, which could provide a starting point for planners.

But the most critical point in achieving ISO14001 or BS8901 standards, warns Eco Events director Sam Wilson, is to embed sustainability in the business.

"It is essential that you create an integrated system rather than a separate bolt-on, which will use additional resources and cause fragmentation," she says.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Register now
Already registered?
Sign in
Cancellations and deferrals: How global agencies are reacting to coronavirus

Cancellations and deferrals: How global agencies are reacting to coronavirus

As IBTM APAC gets postponed, agencies tell C&IT what they are doing to meet the challenges posed by the outbreak.

IBTM APAC 2020 postponed over coronavirus

IBTM APAC 2020 postponed over coronavirus

Organisers have postponed the inaugural IBTM Asia Pacific due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

How are incentive budgets changing in 2020?

How are incentive budgets changing in 2020?

Budgets increases come despite fears over economic uncertainty, according to the State of the Industry 2020: Incentives report.

MGM Resorts takes action over massive data hack

MGM Resorts takes action over massive data hack

More than 10.6million guests have had their data leaked after the cyber attack, according to reports.

APAC planners still 'use manual processes' for most of their tasks

APAC planners still 'use manual processes' for most of their tasks

Australian and New Zealander event planners need a more technology-driven approach, according to new research by Cvent.

DICE launched to improve diversity at conferences and events

DICE launched to improve diversity at conferences and events

New charter aims to eliminate 'manels' and offers guidelines for making events more diverse, on and off stage.

Are experiential food and drink incentives on the rise?

Are experiential food and drink incentives on the rise?

Planners reveal what food and drink experiences clients are increasingly requesting, in the C&IT State of the Industry: Incentives report.

World’s most popular destinations for business travel revealed

World’s most popular destinations for business travel revealed

New research draws on official government flight data to reveal locations most popular with UK business travellers going overseas in the last year.

Top agencies speak out amid warnings the coronavirus response came ‘too late’

Top agencies speak out amid warnings the coronavirus response came ‘too late’

With reports that another key congress may be cancelled, agencies explain how they have been taking stock.

Delta commits $1 billion to become first carbon-neutral airline

Delta commits $1 billion to become first carbon-neutral airline

The airline makes 10-year commitment to mitigate all emissions from March 2020.

LATEST JOBS