According to Kris Justice, Cvent’s Senior Manager, Enterprise Customer Success, around 55% of organisations currently have company-wide carbon emissions reduction targets, 23% have similar targets for business travel and only 9% have targets in place for reducing emissions associated with meetings and events.
“These percentages will rise as more and more companies pledge to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050 in accordance with the 2015 Paris Agreement from the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21),” Justice says. “However, planners shouldn’t wait to have targets imposed upon them. The opportunity to manage upwards and introduce measures today, which will help you to contribute positively to company goals around climate impact reduction is huge.”
Justice was speaking during Cvent’s recent webinar on ‘What’s your sustainability game plan for your events?’. Together with Felicia Asiedu, Senior Manager, Europe Marketing, they talked viewers through the recommended steps to get started with a sustainability action plan.
Once planners understand where meetings and events sit within an organisation’s sustainability journey, they can create a sustainability lifecycle of an event and pinpoint areas where spend can be tracked and climate positive decisions will have the most impact.
By doing this via a centralised system, planners can share guidance with other stakeholders, set approval or smarter decision-making policies, and track both carbon offset purchases and spend with sustainable venues and suppliers.
According to Justice, an example of a smarter decision-making policy that would drive behavioural change, could be to insist that RFPs are always sent to at least one venue with proven sustainability credentials, uploaded to the Cvent Supplier Network.
She says: “By sourcing venues and suppliers through one central system, you can apply environmentally friendly tagging and prioritise sustainability within search, while also using 3D floor plans to limit site visits and the maps feature to identify venues with close proximity to public transport or within walking distance from a certain hotel.”
Another example would be to eliminate paper agendas, surveys and business cards by having a mobile event app and using Lead Capture to gather leads digitally.
“Build more time into your game plan for developing a mobile app and sourcing badging that’s biodegradable or recyclable,” Asiedu says. “When delegates arrive at your event, instead of having all the paper badges already printed, use OnArrival for just-in-time printing. It will help to reduce wastage and it’s more GDPR compliant.”
One vital aspect of devising a sustainability game plan is to recognise that, involving and influencing event attendee behaviour can help to drive action and meet goals.
For example, by capturing delegate arrival and departure dates and times, it could allow for organised group transportation. Or, by asking attendees to register for their meals, planners could get a more accurate food and beverage estimate in order to avoid excess waste.
“Communication with attendees is key,” says Justice. “You have the power to influence how they engage with your event - whether that’s by providing virtual elements through the Attendee Hub to reduce multi-day or long-haul travel, or by offering carbon offset purchases. Attendees need you to have these options in place so that they can justify their attendance to a low carbon meeting during a time when more and more organisations will scrutinise business travel.”
Finally, Asiedu and Justice discussed the reporting aspect of an effective sustainability game plan and recommended partnering with one of the many organisations offering carbon calculators, which would complement the ‘reports of relevance’ available to Cvent customers.
“Draw on all the knowledge and resources available and don’t be afraid to ask for help from venues, suppliers, industry associations or your Cvent account team,” Asiedu concluded. “Start with small things or where you can have the most influence. Write a list and set goals against them. It will help to get your game plan up and running and you can develop it from there.”
For more ways to reduce your event carbon footprint and make more eco-friendly choices, head to our green event planning hub here.