3 Key Sustainability Factors That Fuel Meeting and Event Decisions

Author: David McMillin       

From hiring gas-guzzling shuttle buses to throwing out extra food, face-to-face gatherings can create challenges for the environment. However, a new survey of 90 travel-management professionals conducted by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation reveals that some organizations are prioritizing the environment when hosting business events. In considering which suppliers to work with, respondents indicated that they give some or a lot of consideration to three sustainability-focused factors: finding a venue with walkable housing options for all attendees, choosing destinations with public transportation to/from the airport, and selecting a venue with digital tools to replace printed materials.

“Now more than ever before, companies are taking a holistic approach to improving what many call the ‘triple bottom line,’ comprised of social, environmental, and financial factors,” said Kate Vasiloff, GBTA’s research director.

However, it appears that “the three P’s” that Vasiloff referenced — people, planet, and profits — can use some extra attention from the business world. For example, while 34 percent of respondents indicated that they choose cities with public transportation for meetings and events, only 3 percent incentivize their employees to actually use those trains and buses when they’re traveling. And as more travelers embrace ride-sharing services with strangers, they don’t have to share those cars with people from their offices. Only 2 percent of respondents incentivize travelers to share transportation to and from the airport with their co-workers.

SEE ALSO: Meetings and Climate Change

Meetings Mean Making a Difference

 There is a clear opportunity for the business-events industry to play a leadership role when it comes to sustainability. According to the most recent Green Venue Report, many venues are already ahead of the curve, with 67 percent of participating convention centers reporting that they have a budget to implement sustainability initiatives and programs. (Read more about the report in Convene.) Consider the new mobile app for exhibitors at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which immediately reduced carbon emissions by 144 kilograms in its first use.

Event professionals can join the sustainability movement, too, by tracking how attendees are collectively affecting the environment. MeetGreen recently launched a new calculator that helps organizations understand best practices for embracing an eco-friendly approach to event planning. You can learn more about the calculator here.

Has your organization taken steps to address sustainability with its meetings and events? Go to Catalyst to share insights into how you think the meetings industry can be more eco-friendly.

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