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7 | Minute Read 

What is Sustainable Event Management?

Sustainable event management is the process by which organisations produce an event with environmental concerns and social responsibility at the forefront of its strategy. Sustainable event management takes into account the needs, values and ethics of all stakeholders of the event.

It may seem like just a trend, but the good news is sustainable event management is on the increase. In 2019 in the UK, sustainable event management came in a close second (Brexit was top) as one of the biggest challenges for event managers in the UK and it’s likely that it wouldn’t be any different in Australia. 

With increasing awareness and consideration of the environment here in Australia, we expect sustainable event management to be high up on the agenda. But where does sustainable event management fit in with virtual events?

In this blog post, we look into the importance of sustainability to event managers,  what ISO 20121 is and how it works, and we explore sustainable event management in a virtual world, including how to make your next event – whether it is online or offline – a sustainable one.

Why is Sustainable Event Management Important?

Sustainable event management is important because it reduces environmental harm and keeps ethics and values at the forefront of the event strategy. Events that lead in sustainability do so with environmental, economic and social values at its core. Sustainable products and events are more than just trendy, with 9 out of 10 Australians wanting sustainable products, and a huge 70% saying they wanted to make their events more sustainable in 2020.

Why should event planners care about Sustainable Event Management?

Can an event be sustainable, cost-effective, and still be good? This is a question event managers ask themselves often – and the answer is yes. With good planning and budgeting, your event can have it all. 

Moving forward – event marketers should be prioritising sustainable event management, why? Because apart from our commitment as human beings to the environment, planning and running sustainable events is also great for business! 

There are great cost savings to be had, including on venues, and your overhead – such as transport, catering and ticketing. Running a sustainable event gives your organisation the opportunity to improve your brand’s approval ratings and increase brand awareness for the right reasons.

What is ISO 20121?

ISO 20121 is the international standard which has been designed as a guide to help organisations and companies relieve the strain on local infrastructure and utilities, reducing the potential for conflict in communities where events are hosted. 

More info on ISO 20121 here.

How to make an Event more Sustainable

In order to run a sustainable event, you need to start at the beginning. Some of the decisions you make regarding your location and venue will be some of the most important. Below we share 7 of the most effective ways to make your event sustainable.

Eco-friendly/Sustainable Venues

One of the biggest decisions in your event management is the location and  venue. Make sure your venue meets sustainability standards, including having recycling centres and sorting stations, filtered water stations, and energy saving appliances. Many venues are taking on the responsibility of being sustainable. Speak to them and ask what they have in place that meets sustainable event management standards.

Use Eco-friendly Transport

Seek out eco friendly transport such as bikes, hybrid taxis, cars and buses and encourage ride sharing where possible. (Please check with your Government on their latest Covid-19 advice in your local area). This is where your choice of location is important. Choose a location that does not require most individuals to travel individually in a car, and make sure public transport is readily available. Lastly, try and give the option of attending your event virtually.

Cut Food Waste

There are lots of options coming forward for sustainable food condiments such as environmentally friendly cutlery packs,  biodegradable coffee cups, and more. Try and keep packaging to a minimum and try to source local foods and drink. Also, be prepared for special dietary requirements to avoid waste and try to offer vegetarian meals to reduce CO2 emissions.

Go Paperless

Reduce your paper usage by discouraging the printing of tickets, use a QR code instead to scan in attendees. Swift Digital’s event management system comes with an events app that allows you to scan in attendees and register their status. Make sure your venue is aware of your paperless policy and work with you to reduce the amount of paper waste. For example, at a conference, use tablets/ipads and white boards when working.

Reduce Energy and Water Consumption

Pick a venue that uses smart energy consumption to monitor energy usage. Key operated rooms where lights are only on when being used, as well as smart digital thermostats should be at the top of your requirements when looking for a venue.  Small wins such as recycled toilet paper and eco friendly toilets are also one to have on your list; this helps reduce overall water consumption.

Waste Management

An overall goal of sustainable event management is having a waste management plan. Ask questions like: how much waste is diverted for the venue after each event? Do you work with any charities or not for profits to donate leftover waste? Your venue of choice may already have a waste management plan in place but it is your responsibility to make sure they adhere to the policy.

Hold Virtual Events

Lastly, if you can, hold your event online or virtually. Virtual events are easier to host, and easier to attend. They can deliver a great ROI because they require much less of a budget. Holding your event virtually has many benefits and is one of the most sustainable ways of holding an event. Virtual events don’t require venues, eliminate travel costs and produce no waste.

Sustainable Event Management in a Virtual Events World

In Swift Digital’s recent survey (December 2020) about Australian events, 81% of respondents reported the same or better attendance at virtual events than their previous in-person events. Virtual events are so effective that 82% of respondents are planning to continue to run them when restrictions are 100% lifted. 

Using technology such as event management platforms and video conferencing software allows you to create first-class experiences for your event attendees and are much more sustainable than physical events.  

But, is there such a thing as sustainable event management in a virtual world and is this the future? Let’s find out some ways your virtual event can meet sustainable event management standards.

Donate saved money to a local community or charity

Running a virtual event in most cases is usually cheaper than running a physical event. The money that you save from running a physical event can be used to donate to a local charity or a not for profit. Some contenders for your donation may be charities with affiliations in sustainability and your help will go to improving the environment and striving for environmental and social change. You will not only help much needed causes but will work towards hitting your organisation’s sustainability goals.

Shop around for the best energy providers

Virtual events require planning, organising and execution. This requires energy. Whether it is using your computer for event planning or using your event platform and video conferencing to run the event, all will require some form of energy, usually electricity. 

If you’re a small business, shop around for a sustainable energy company to make a difference. If you’re in a large organisation, encourage the use of sustainable energy providers, start the conversations and get the right people in the room who can make the change.

Use software that supports sustainability

When choosing which software you will use for your virtual event, be sure to do your research into their use of sustainable practices both environmentally and socially. Ensure they have commitments when it comes to making a positive change to the environment towards social issues.

Swift Digital supports Sustainable Business Australia who is the body in Australia for the low carbon and environmental goods and services sector.

Powerful Event Management Software

The benefits of running corporate events, whether you hold physical or virtual events are endless. 52% of respondents asked about the importance of events in their marketing strategy said that events drove more results than other marketing channels.

You can continue to reap the ROI of holding events without breaking social restrictions. Consider managing your corporate events virtually.

Use our Virtual Event Planning Guide to help you and also Download our handy virtual event planning checklist.

Looking to make your next event more sustainable or want help with corporate event management and marketing?

Ask the experts at Swift Digital about how we can help automate the process of organising and marketing your corporate events (virtual or face-to-face). Call us on 03 9929 7001.

Virtual Event Planning Checklist

Plan your virtual event successfully and make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Get our Virtual Event Planning Checklist now!

Download Checklist