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#everythingiscloser: all #eventprofs need is at their fingertips in Copenhagen

#everythingiscloser 1

Under the campaign #everythingiscloser we went to visit the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen in September for 24 hours to discover everything MICE related. Copenhagen is an easy to access city where it’s also easy to get around by foot, bike or public transport. This reflects the Danish way of living, sustainable practices, active way of life and modern infrastructure.

After this short but eventful trip we can honestly say that we are now closer to…

24 Hours in Copenhagen – City guide for #eventprofs

24 Hours in Copenhagen #eventprofs

I arrived in Copenhagen for a short 24 Hours press trip with Visit Denmark and was greeted by Erik from Visit Denmark and my colleague Kim who arrived early noon and had some time already to explore the city.

Luckily, it wasn’t my first time in Copenhagen, so the short and condensed time for all the activities we had planned ahead didn’t make me nervous, in contrary; the agenda was packed with new and exciting activities to showcase the latest openings in the city which we were eager to explore the following day.

Back in 2014 I was in Copenhagen for the #BeeSustain Tweet Tour and a few months later the same year I was back for the #MIND fam trip and attended the #Meetovation training. These experiences introduced me to the city’s sustainable strategy, and showcased how local suppliers can support event professionals to get higher ROI on meetings by implementing the Danish Meeting Design. One year later I was back on a private visit to revisit favourite parts of the city.

Three years on, and Copenhagen is still on the forefront of sustainability and creative Danish Meeting Design, with more new venues and developments to explore. Moreover, the city is more connected and everything just got closer.

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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.






Photos by Copenhagen Convention Bureau