As concern for climate change becomes more pressing, event planners will be forced to manage resources more efficiently. And since a plurality of event attendees are now millennials, it’s increasingly demanded. Of course, event planning can seem costly and complex enough without having to calculate your carbon footprint, but streamlining just a few processes with technology and asking your vendors the right questions can make your event significantly greener without costing more time or money.
Few decisions impact your event as much as choosing your location. Transportation to and from the venue makes up the majority of any event’s environmental impact. Finding a more central destination can significantly lighten your carbon footprint. Once you decide on a location, choose hotels that are LEED certified or known for resource efficiency.
Cut it Out
Imagine the programs, brochures, and business cards you find stuffed in your bag at the end of a conference. Don’t let most of your own work end up crumpled at the bottom of a briefcase or get tossed in a trash can. It’s easier than ever to run a paperless event. E-mail invites and reminders allow for more immediate and personalized communication with invitees. Maps and schedules can be more efficiently replaced with a mobile application specific to your event. Printing badges on-demand not only saves you time (no more badge stuffing the night before), but also reduces waste since reprints for nicknames and typos are spared.
Speak with hotel staff about their food preparation process. Is it possible to donate recovered food? Err on the side of plated meals versus buffets, as anything not eaten must be discarded once put on the buffet table. Ask your venue about the cost of plated options, and how they dispose of food waste. Be open about your goals with your vendor and ask for their suggestions.
Record and Report
Using a dynamic and detailed registration system is a seamless way to gather actionable data about your event’s environmental impact. Some food preferences, like allergies and vegetarian options, are make or break to your attendees’ experience. Allow them to select meal preferences and RSVP to optional meals. This enables you to keep attendees happy and cut out wasteful guessing games with your vendor, saving money and uneaten food.
If you’re employing RFID, session check-in, or other methods of attendee tracking, your data compounds in effectiveness. Getting hard data about your attendees’ movements can yield surprising results. Are they skipping lunch or overflowing your happy hour? Real-life analytics can tell you, and you can even share this data with your venue so they can more efficiently accommodate future events.
The future of business is sustainable business, and the event industry has an opportunity to lead in that regard. Using event technology to make your processes more efficient is not only easier on your bottom line, but easier on the planet. By gathering more information about your attendees and planning accordingly, you can reduce your purchased consumables and advance your brand as a modern, conscious thought leader.
Have you been focusing on making your events more sustainable? Let us know in the comments! And for more detailed information, our guide to Green Meetings is free to download.