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How the sharing economy is shaping the future of events

Sharing economy events

In their first episode, Caleb Parker, Future in 15 host interviewed Damian Oracki, Founder of Showslice. Showslice is a venue marketing platform that helps event organisers share infrastructure costs at the venue where the event is being held. This way, all stakeholders can save time, money and organise more sustainable events. Furthermore, by listing the event on their platform, Showslice promotes and sells available dates at the venue, offering an innovative sales channel.

Sustainable Brands: Interview with David Fiss, Executive Producer – Live Events

Sustainable Brands Conference took place 25-28 September 2016 in Copenhagen – the Capital of Sustainable Meetings, and welcomed business innovators and sustainability experts from some of the largest brands across the globe. The message was clear – sustainability needs to be embedded into business models – it is a catalyst for innovation and a driver for profit. It is an opportunity for businesses, society and the planet. With live events increasingly becoming part of many brands content marketing strategies, it makes sense that brand professionals need to be considering the implementation of sustainability into their events, too.

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Amanda Thurlow attended and interviewed David Fiss, Executive Producer – Live Events, Sustainable Brands.

Has the inclusion of a sustainability strategy complicated or simplified the event planning process and how?

We are currently beginning to utilize the ISO 20121 sustainable event management system for our main events.  This pragmatic approach allows us to organize and integrate our sustainability strategy into all areas of our decision making/planning process.

The Radisson Blu has a clear sustainability strategy, what strategies have drawn you to other suppliers?

We appreciate our suppliers partnering with us to help achieve our sustainability goals.  While working with partners with a clear sustainability strategy is helpful, we equally enjoy working with suppliers who are just beginning their sustainability journey and are willing to work together to try new initiatives. Leaving a positive legacy of sustainability in the communities we visit contributes to our overall sustainability objectives.

By implementing a sustainability strategy has this increased or decreased expenditure?

Give and take – we save money in some areas such as eliminating water bottles and printed programs.  While others may cost a little more, such as implementing a Back of House waste sort. There is also a large “reputation cost” of not implementing sustainable meeting practices at our events.

What are the biggest challenges in creating a sustainable event and what are the biggest lessons that you have learnt?

The biggest challenges have been, and continue to be, engagement of our stakeholders and helping to create behaviour change.

During the event one of the speakers implied that the environmental impact could be reduced even further by taking the event online. Are there any plans to move the event to a digital platform? Why do you believe it is important to hold a face to face event?  

Face to face meetings allow us to leverage our whole selves and to fully exploit the opportunity to create outcomes and solutions that are greater than the sum of their parts.

A main theme of the event was around sustainability not standing still and there always being a need for innovation. What future plans do you have to increase sustainability at future events to keep up with innovation?

We are always willing to push the envelope and try new technologies and strategies to increase the sustainability of our events and participation by our attendees and suppliers.  One area we are increasing our focus is on local community engagement. Each community we bring our event has unique challenges and solutions to those challenges.  We are excited to both highlight these organizations and bring their amazing work into our SB community.

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Photos by Sustainable Brands

Sustainability – beyond the hot topic

At the Sustainable Brands Conference in Copenhagen sustainability went beyond the conference programme and was embedded into the event planning strategy – here is how:

Location

Copenhagen lends itself perfectly to a destination for a sustainable event. The city aims to become the first carbon neutral capital by 2025 and it is clear that the local community are on board with achieving this. It is also centrally located in Europe, making it easily accessible to delegates from many other destinations. On arrival in Copenhagen the venue, Radisson Blu Scandinavia, is 15 minutes by public transport from the airport.

Venue

As stated on their website “Radisson Blu is recognized by the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) for leadership and innovative best practices in sustainable meetings’ solutions”. Wolfgang Neuman President & Chief Executive Officer of the Rezidor Hotel Group delivered a session at the conference sharing how each brand in the portfolio of hotels was taking up the challenge to become a more responsible business around youth unemployment, carbon emissions, human rights and water stewardship. The initiative that was promoted at Radisson Blu Scandinavia was  Blu Planet, which focuses on reducing water waste.

The chain works with Just a Drop, the international water aid charity and donates money when guests re-use their towels to save water. Through this initiative the brand ensures a lifetime’s supply of fresh drinking water is available to over 12,000 children. When asked attendees to make a show of hands Wolfgang was impressed to see how many had participated by re using their towels. People were changing their behaviour. Radisson Blu also joined the Soap for Hope programme to recycle waste soap to help improve hygiene and prevent disease in communities that have no access to soap.

The hotel also implements further initiatives around using eco friendly cleaning products and offering water light breakfasts.

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Wolfgang Neuman President & Chief Executive Officer of the Rezidor Hotel Group

Promoting well being

The conference committed not just to the well being of the planet but also the attendees. Yoga classes were on offer each morning and cycling was encouraged within the transport plans for the fringe activities, serving the dual purpose of reducing CO2 and promoting physical activity. Free bicycles were available from the hotel.

The well being of attendees was further encouraged through the food offering. The lunch menu promoted the six principles of brain food with lots of fish, wholegrain products, fruit and vegetables. Tied into this was the use of fresh, locally sourced products, reducing the carbon footprint of the event whilst also contributing to the local economy.

Reducing waste

Delegate bags were offered in a deconstructed format. Instead of putting everything in a bag for each attendee, items were left on a table for them to select on the items they wanted, therefore reducing waste. “Sprout” pencils,  the world’s first sustainable pencils were offered. They are made from sustainable wood and contain a dissolvable seed capsule in the end so once finished with they can be planted. Paper was offered outside rooms for people to take if required rather than being placed on each table setting.

All event specific signage was to be sent back to the printers for recycling and all brand signage was for long term usage so would not be disposed of.

As part of the waste reduction efforts exhibitors were also encouraged to minimise waste and use eco friendly products where possible. The Google Cardboard viewers offered on Dong Energy were as sustainable as they could possibly be and if users knew of better options they were invited to suggest them. Carlson Rezidor promoted their Green Meetings initiative at their exhibition stand by offering attendees the option to help offset the carbon footprint of the event. Small flyers made from seed paper were given out and attendees were encouraged to write on them how they intended to activate their purpose. Then they were asked to plant them at the Carlson Rezidor exhibition stand. For each card planted the chain agreed to offset 1 ton of carbon and plant 1 tree in Kenya.

When it came to food waste attendees were offered smaller plates at the lunch breaks. This encouraged smaller portions, meaning that everything on their plates was eaten and food waste was reduced.

Radisson Blu and Sustainable Brands also partnered with Beyond Coffee to turn coffee grounds from the conference into edible oyster mushrooms.

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Activating Purpose

Banner stands near the coffee machines in the refreshment areas promoted the Positive Cup initiative from Nespresso which aimed to promote farmer welfare and improve the sustainability of the coffee industry.

Alongside eco friendly initiatives the event also promoted the community and humanitarian initiatives within the sustainability framework. Local community initiatives  were offered speaking platforms at the event to promote create business partnerships for both attendees and charities. CPH:CHANGE, a local collaborative platform for social change initiatives had the opportunity to speak to attendees with the intention of matching each of these initiatives with brands marketing strategies.

Conclusion

Sustainable Brands demonstrated how event organisers can work with suppliers to reduce any negative impacts. Sustainability strategies can be included in all events – not just those with sustainability themes. How can you ensure your next event has social, economic and environmental benefits?

Photos by Sustainable Brands

How can we accelerate the adoption of sustainability in events?

Business innovators and sustainability influencers from some of the largest brands across the globe gathered together in Copenhagen, 25-28 September 2016 for the Sustainable Brands Conference. The message was clear- sustainability needs to be embedded into business models – it is a catalyst for innovation and a driver for profit. It is an opportunity for businesses, society and the planet. With live events increasingly becoming part of many brands content marketing strategies, it makes sense that brand professionals need to be considering the implementation of sustainability into their events and what better opportunity than to learn from the experts in Copenhagen – the Capital of Sustainable Meetings.

One thing was clear from the low turnout of attendees at Copenhagen Convention Bureau’s breakout session – more awareness needs to be raised about creating sustainable events. As our facilitator, Ulrika Martensson, PR and Communications – Meetings and Conventions at Copenhagen CVB pointed out – events are an extension of the brand so sustainable brands need to be creating sustainable events. Ulrika, who greeted attendees in a Bee Sustain T-shirt and bee antennas, is the face of #BeeSustain – the campaign to promote sustainability in events. The aim of the campaign is to share the lessons learnt by the CVB from the sustainable events they had been involved with. Since assisting the UN in implementing a sustainability strategy at their climate change conference in 2009, which was attended by 33,526 people from NGOs, media, business and government, Copenhagen CVB have gathered a lot of best practice examples.

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As attendees entered the room they were given case studies and asked to work in groups to brainstorm ideas about how to engage delegates in community projects at events and to identify the pros and cons of sustainability strategies at events. Experts from all corners of the industry including sustainable business consultants, event agencies, waste management organisations, hotel chains and more were available for delegates to consult with before presenting their answers. Groups could also use the inspiration hub that had been created to read case studies and testimonials from sustainable event organisers. Once the answers were compiled each group read aloud their answers and the experts awarded jars of honey sweets to the group with their favourite answer. Before the session ended attendees were given a miniature pot of honey and were asked the question  – how do we accelerate the adoption of sustainability in event? Each option was printed out and attached to a bowl. Attendees then voted for their answer by placing their honey in the bowl under their preferred answer. The answers with the highest votes were:

  • By playing the lead role and sharing best practice
  • By using sustainable suppliers.

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Common misconceptions about implementing sustainability into events included that it is too complicated or too expensive. In a session earlier that day, where  a panel of sustainable event experts sat on a panel, the issue of cost had also been raised. Inge Huijbrechts, Vice President Responsible Business, Carlson Rezidor, asserted that sustainability should not cost extra – it should be a standard component in companies business models. Paul Salinger, Strategic and Creative Communications/Sustainability Champion, Oracle, identified quality issues as a common concern but assured delegates that quality had improved and was often better than the non sustainable options. He posed the question – if sustainable products equated to quality why would you not want to pay more? The MICEBlogHQ took this concept and polled Twitter followers on their preferences. 73 % of those who responded said they would be willing to pay extra.  With regard to sustainability making the event planning process more complicated, Ulrika advocated that using the brand values as a framework for the event actually simplifies the process – people know the criteria they needed to make their decisions by e.g  if the supplier supports sustainability in the same way the company does then they are a match for working together.

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Discussions amongst the group and with the experts revealed that when it comes to sustainability, there is a lack of accountability. People assume the government is taking care of it, event professionals assume the hotel is taking care of it, marketers assume that the event organisers are taking care of it. The session concluded that it was everyone’s responsibility. As event professionals we have the ability to change behaviour in a multi dynamic way. We can demand sustainability from our suppliers. If suppliers do not have a sustainable offer then we can encourage them to adopt one. We can change the behaviour of delegates by implementing small changes to the delivery of our events to ensure we leave less of a carbon footprint – changes that actually enhance the attendee experience. We can also educate delegates by explaining why we are making these changes. By making attendees consciously aware of the changes we make, we are able to improve our own business image, reduce our impact on the environment and change delegate behaviour to reduce their impact on the environment. We are able to support social projects and local businesses.

The world won’t save itself and individual torch bearers can’t do it alone. This is is going to take collaboration between all sectors to create an industry wide shift.

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Photos by Copenhagen Convention Bureau

Gamifying sustainability at events

Currently, two of the biggest industry trends are technology and sustainability. Both are very high on the corporate agenda but planners are still struggling from various reasons to fully implement them. Some of which include not seeing the ROI, no attendee engagement, no budgets, data privacy or just can’t bother.

When we talk about sustainability, first thought that comes to mind is recycling. How can we reduce our waste or save money? When we talk about technology, it’s about data. Why not enough attendees download our event app, why they don’t share enough on social media or sign up for our platform? Data can create compelling case studies backed by analytics to present to sponsors and improve future events.

There is one thing sustainability and technology need but planners are still straggling with – engagement. How can we communicate sustainability to our attendees in a fun and engaging way? How can we use technology to collect data without being too intrusive?

There is simple answer to this question and it’s Pavegen.

What is Pavegen? Launched in 2009 by Laurence Kemball-Cook, an industrial design engineer and graduate of Loughborough University, it’s a flooring system that generates power and data from footsteps. Pavegen tiles can be used in both indoor and outdoor locations and work best where there is high footfall such as retail and transport hubs. The technology is integrated, discreetly, into the existing environment, underfoot. Pavegen units are also available in modular form for use at events, such as exhibitions and marketing campaigns, to demonstrate their commitment to innovation, sustainability and CSR initiatives.

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

I was first introduced to Pavegen when they had their installation in Canary Wharf few years ago and last year attended Laurence’s presentation at Sustainable Brands London. Keeping in touch with his team I was honoured to be invited to their event on 11th May at BAFTA where they revealed new brand and new product for Pavegen.

Put very simply, Pavegen is a floor that generates energy that generates data and their aim is to connect communities with people-generated energy around the world. The product that has been revealed last week, known as V3, is sleeker and far more efficient, generating over 200 times more power than the first model manufactured in 2009. They powered a football pitch in Brazil and it will be soon installed in Westfield Stratford and Oxford Street in London.

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

What are the opportunities for event planners using this technology? Pavegen’s new unique triangular design maximises energy output and data capture and can be used at major exhibitions to capture attendee’s footfall. Its high durability and simple deployability allows Pavegen to generate renewable energy where and when it is needed and lastly Pavegen’s flooring is entirely customisable to reflect any brand identity with the ability to seamlessly integrate into any indoor or outdoor location.

Greatest opportunity I personally see for event organisers is that through data applications Pavegen offers, which includes a comprehensive analysis of consumer patterns by continuous footfall tracking and heat mapping, is that it will allow organisers track attendee behaviour, collect data about busiest hours during the exhibition, busiest days, most popular exhibitors and better tailor exhibition’s programme for next event. With the growing concern about privacy, Pavegen has the ability to track footfall anonymously. By gamifying sustainability at events, attendees will engage more with sustainability and event technology.

Lastly, Pavegen and Tribal Planet also announced their collaboration to implement game-changing plans for the Pavegen technology. Jeff Martin, CEO of Tribal Planet presented how the two companies will be creating a digital application, using public venues and access points around the world to monitor the energy generated on each Pavegen tile. The app platform will follow a ‘redeem and donate’ scheme, where the energy generated by each individual’s footsteps provides them with an energy currency that can be redeemed for exclusive experiences and events access, and donated to social causes to deprived areas. From attention based economy to now behaviour based economy, people will be now able to vote with their actions, better understand and value the choices they make.

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

Sustainability is more than recycling or using renewable energy. Sustainability is about engaging our future generations in the energy saving process, making them learn, engage and understand that process and Pavegen is the only form of renewable energy attendees can engage with at events.

© The MICE Blog - event management blog