To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, CanSPEP put together a webinar event titled #EarthDayForEventPeople where it gathered events professionals to discuss the hot topics in the industry today, including sustainability.
Here are the three key takeaways we learned from the discussion.
- Virtual events will become more prevalent than ever, but will never replace live events
According to Candice Tulsieram, chief events officer at 360 Events, virtual events are here to stay.
“Virtual events aren’t going anywhere,” she said. “We are all aware of the carbon footprint of live events. And going virtual eliminates that. I, of course, don’t want all of our events to go virtual, because I believe we need to support hotels and convention centres, but what this does show us, is to shift the way we think about things and offer hybrid event models, streaming and live events, and keeping a fine balance between the two going forward.”
Robert Thompson of AV Canada agreed, saying that although we are seeing a surge today with virtual events, as many of us are housebound because of the COVID-19 lockdowns, they will never fully replace live events.
“Live events create experiences and opportunities for us all,” he said. “They stimulate all five senses. With virtual, you only get two of those senses – sight and sound. We all agree that face-to-face events provide something. The face-to-face meeting is not going away but virtual events are going to stay. Planners and suppliers are going to have to rethink how we do those meetings together going forward.”
In the interim, Tulsieram said that in order to make our virtual events better, we need to tickle more of the senses for attendees.
“Virtual events have evolved so much over the last decade,” she said. “So now is as good as a time as ever for planners to get informed about all the virtual options out there. You can think outside the box to make these events better and get really creative. Like entering a virtual tradeshow as an avatar where you can go tradeshow booths. So while it won’t touch all of our senses as a live event does, it at least piques our interest when it comes to virtual.”
- Supporting local suppliers should be the main focus for planners moving forward
One way to reduce your live event’s carbon footprint according to Caroline Aston, of Aston Events & Communications, is to work with your local suppliers when you are able to plan your next live event.
“There are quite a few benefits working with local suppliers,” she said. “First, you’re supporting the local economy and supporting our local event industry. When we are working with suppliers, we like to source as many local suppliers as we can. For years we would work with a lanyard supplier that would come from China. When I looked into it, I found there are Canadian suppliers who offer the same products, and there wasn’t a significant price point…and with a Canadian company, you’ve got no risk of them being stuck at customs, and you’ve reduced the cost of transportation and impact of transportation when you think of it in terms of its environmental impact. I think as planners, we need to make Canadian suppliers our first choice. Supporting our local economy is so key right now.”
- Banning single-use plastic water bottles can have a big impact
Malak Sidky, president of Health Care Event Planning, made a point during her presentation to talk about low-hanging fruit when it comes to making environmental changes.
For example, she said one thing planners and suppliers can look at doing for their future event, is making sure they have no single-use plastic water bottles at their sites or events.
“Half a litre of bottled water generates 80-90 grams of carbon dioxide versus half a litre of tap water is only 0.1 gram of carbon dioxide,” she said. “The implications are huge when an entire company that spans 76 countries decides that at no meetings or events, or head office meetings, there will be bottled water or Perrier.”
She said that planners should be bold enough to ask for this in RFPs, as suppliers are flexible enough to offer eco-friendly solutions.
CMEExpo will be hosting a session during our August event that is focused on sustainable events. Learn more about why you should attend CMEExpo here.