Meetings Sustainability in 2020

What will meetings look like in 2040, 2060? The meeting and event industry remains among the top ten largest in America, valued at $1 trillion. Corporate event teams, small businesses, big agencies, DMCs, and, most importantly the working independent Meeting Planner depend upon our industry’s progress. Every individual involved has a stake in promoting an environmentally mindful focus toward event management.

What Is Sustainability?

Sustainable event management is the process of integrating environmental and socially responsible initiatives into meeting and event planning. It asks Meeting Planners to consider the needs of different stakeholders and, in turn, their impact upon your meeting. Consider the variables at stake Meeting Planners face: air, ground, venue, menu, energy, packaging. Air travel makes up 70% of a single event’s carbon footprint. 12% on venue energy, 10% on the ground. The typical conference attendee produces nearly 4 lbs. of trash per day*.

What Are Companies Doing About it?

Fortunately, many industry players, large and small, have shuffled priorities to take a progressive stance on sustainability. It boosts motivation, promotes diversity, enhances a business’ reputation, strengthens client relationships and cuts costs on overall consumption. If companies are not affording to reduce their events’ environmental footprint, it could invite criticism or potential loss of business. Specifically, forward-thinking influencers have taken steps in crucial areas around full-scope event management:

• Food and beverage

• Travel and its negative impacts on CO2 consumption

• Excessive paper and water usage

Plannernet’s Role

With a global Network of 2,000 Meeting Planners operating in their local regions, Plannernet sits in a unique niche regarding sustainability and how companies can improve further upon their efforts. It’s vital to source locally whenever possible. Leveraging experienced Meeting Planners already operating where your events are taking place means you’re cutting costs and eliminating the carbon footprint attached to flying and housing non-local individuals. Not only are you getting greener, but taking advantage of local resources imparts local knowledge; local Meeting Planners bring knowledge of the most environmentally conscious local venues and vendors. Further, Plannernet recommends other actions to promote sustainability:

• Centralized meeting destinations to provide proximate locations for most participants

• Seek alternative venues with emission reduction programs in place

• Incentivize attendees to take advantage of public transit

Forward Progress

Over the years, we’ve seen partners and clients attach increased importance on environmentally sustainable event management. Initiatives continue to be put in place where employees and attendees can feel good about it. But we can only collectively further this progress. It makes the future and the planet a better place for meetings.

*Based on analysis of event venue and catering waste from 60 sample conferences held in North America, Asia, and Europe between 2007 – 2014 (MeetGreen, 2014)