December 22, 2020
By Mike Fletcher

Sustainability is firmly back on the agenda for corporate event planners, according to this year’s ICE Benchmarking Research, in association with Cvent. 

‘Ensuring the sustainability of their events’ was voted the second most important issue facing corporate event planners over the next three years by 70% of respondents. 

Unsurprisingly, ‘delivering more virtual and hybrid events’ was the number one priority for 74% of in-house planners, whilst ‘using technology to enhance ways of working for event teams’ came in third position with 64% of respondents. 

In 2019, the issue of sustainability didn’t even make it into the top five priorities of this annual study. Last year’s top priority for corporate event planners was ‘Using metrics to effectively measure event performance’, which for 2020 has slipped down into fourth place.

“Moving from in-person to a fully-sustainable model of virtual events during the pandemic has forced planners to think harder about ensuring that once we return to hybrid or in-person formats, sustainability remains a key consideration,” says Anita Howard, strategy director of ICE. 

Speaking about the importance of sustainability during Cvent CONNECT® Europe Virtual, Charlotte Bygraves, director of marketing and events at Bain & Company, told delegates: “Virtual meetings and events have proven that we don’t need to print off materials to run this activity. We should all ensure that we never print anything ever again for event planning.

"Other areas of sustainability that will be prioritised once we return to in-person events include how venues reduce food waste, how suppliers minimise their carbon footprint and how in-house event teams are capturing and evidencing CSR improvements and key performance indicators.”

The annual ICE Benchmarking Research surveyed almost 100 events professionals from the UK, Americas, and the EMEA region. Some 13 in-depth interviews, from a wide range of sectors also formed part of the study.

Further findings from this year’s report revealed that, as event professionals strive to deliver more online and hybrid events, 67% of respondents say that their technology budgets are increasing, whilst three in five say their marketing budgets are either staying the same or increasing. 

67% of respondents say that their technology budgets are increasing, whilst three in five say their marketing budgets are either staying the same or increasing.

Some 72% of respondents further feel that the events team is valued in their company and the same percentage also feel that the events channel is valued within their business. 

“This suggests that events remain a valued form of marketing and corporate communication and event teams are retaining the necessary budget in order to deliver their digital and hybrid activity,” Howard says. 

“As event teams focus on up-skilling in order to deliver virtual events, the success metric in the short-term is possibly the running of the event with no major faults. As online and hybrid become more integrated into company event strategies for the coming three years however, planners will look to make sustainability, technology and measurement signifiant factors in their overall strategy.”

Alongside its annual benchmarking research, ICE also stages a set of awards aimed at increasing the recognition of events and the discipline of event planning within corporate organisations. 

The 2021 ICE Awards will take place in London on 8 July, with Cvent a proud sponsor of the Best International Event category.

For more information, visit the ICE Awards website


Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

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