Net-zero events could soon be reality
As BUSINESSES are offered an opportunity for rebuilding, perhaps the most significant trend will be customer demand for low-carbon events. Sustainability has become more important across the business world. For the travel industry as a whole, airlines and hotels have already begun to ramp up their offset programmes. Similarly, solutions that reimagine and repurpose hospitality supplies are finding new takers. For example, the UK company Event Cycle worked with organisers of the 2021 COP26 climate conference in Glasgow to upgrade the quality of the carpet used at the event so it could be reused in the homes of local underprivileged residents.
Events will increasingly be tasked with making carbon-neutral events a reality.
The industry has been invited to sign the Net Zero Carbon Events (NZCE) pledge, to support halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Kai Hattendorf, Managing Director and CEO at UFI, said at the recently concluded IBTM. “The event industry can and must play its part in accelerating the transition towards global net zero targets,” he said.
Among the early signatories is American Express Meetings and Events, whose participation was announced at IBTM. Eloísa Urrutia, Head of M&E Sustainability, Amex GBT, said: “Meetings and events play a pivotal role in bringing people together and connecting us all. We believe that human connection shouldn’t come at the cost of the environment.”
A comprehensive roadmap for the Net-Zero Carbon Events initiative was unveiled in Sharm El Sheikh, focused around key action areas such as clean energy, sustainable materials and food supplies, zero-emissions logistics and net-zero travel to events.
One way to make events more sustainable would be to work with carbon-neutral venues such as Oceandiva London. Set to launch in 2023, the floating event space on the river Thames will offer the ability to host large-scale events on the river, whether static or sailing in the heart of the city.
EMPHASIS ON EXPERIENCE
As travel returns – and indeed, revenge travel makes its way into the business arena – attendees are eager for human connections and for authentic experiences that would not otherwise be possible via Zoom meetings.
For suppliers, focusing on the experience has become a key selling point. The Nobu Hotel in Barcelona has a meeting philosophy based on Kanso or simplicity. “Things are expressed in terms of clarity, a kind of clarity that may be achieved by removing or excluding non-essential items. At Nobu we apply this idea to our meeting and events experiences, providing the perfect spaces for organized meetings, free-flowing thinking and out-of-the-box idea sharing in a balanced environment. Meeting spaces are dressed minimally and free of clutter to allow for a distraction-free work environment. Guests are encouraged to take a moment to carry out some breathing exercises before the meeting starts and can toast to a successful event with a Kanpai moment,” said Lorna Turnbull, Director of Marketing at Nobu Barcelona.
The property, which received 3,000 room nights from the MENA region last year since opening in February 2022, also emphasises the current trend for bleisure – business and leisure. Its location next to Sants Railway station opening up high-speed links to Madrid, the rest of Spain and France, Turnbull said.
Association conferences, traditionally a significant component of the industry, are now becoming essential to post-pandemic business acceleration, research from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), shows. “There is a palpable feeling that the industry is back. People have genuinely missed the opportunities, collaboration, and friendship that come from being in a room together. It is very welcome news for us all,” said Senthil Gopinath, Chief Executive Officer at ICCA.
At the same time, association conventions show just how the industry has changed in the wake of the coronavirus. There has been a fragmentation of the traditional mass-convention, the trends report says, with more and more meetings now looking at multi-base events, comprising of one central hub surrounded by several regional satellite events. Such events may take a hybrid format: content may be centralised via video conferencing technology, while in-person meetings support local network building.