- 61% of respondents think the environment is the most important section of sustainability
- 18% said they shared or published their event’s sustainability reports
- 81% say sustainability is not a barrier to creativity
- Brands understand that sustainability is vital for their business success but this understanding does not consistently carry through to the delivery of their events
- Event professionals do not think sustainability is linked to a specific label
Event professionals from over 100 of the industry’s top agencies, brands, venues and event suppliers were the first to hear the findings of the major research project undertaken by the organisers of this year’s Sustainable Events Summit (SES). Delegates attending the event on 21 November were given a unique insight into how sustainability is currently viewed by corporate event planners, and to what extent it plays a part in the planning and execution of their events.
The research, carried out by not-for-profit Positive Impact, comprised in-depth interviews with corporate planners from six global top brands and agencies plus over 100 online surveys from event professionals across the industry. The research questions were compiled by a committee of SES Executive and Research Partners that included Banks Sadler, The fresh Group, Showslice, drp, Fisher Productions, ExCeL, GES, Smyle, Sustainable Events, Smart Group, International Confex and the Rachel Ley Consultancy.
In a change from previous years, the research findings drove the content for the Summit and formed the basis of the programme with a mix of presentations and panel discussions featuring speakers from Anglian Water, Formula E, Sky, Delta Lloyd, Ethical Corp, UFI and VM Ware, as well as a keynote presentation by award-winning social entrepreneur and global expert on the Sharing Economy, Benita Matofska from The People Who Share (courtesy of Speakers’ Corner). Delegates attending the Summit came from organisations such as Direct Line Group, Virgin Media, Unilever, ITV, the NEC, Melia Hotels International, Gleneagles, Camm & Hooper, The Crystal, Fisher Productions and the o2.
The key findings of the report identified that 61% of respondents think the environment is the most important section of sustainability, but that event professionals do not think sustainability islinked to a specific labelsuch as Green Tourism Business Scheme or ISO20121. Discussions focused on how the event industry could shift its focus to be able to tell a better story on the positive impact of events, and how labels could be used to enhance the global profile of the event industry.
Only 18% of respondents said they shared or published their event’s sustainability reports so during the Summit delegates were asked why this figure is so low. Pressure from the media was sited as the main reason more stories are not currently being shared. However, the panel, which included Paul Colston from Conference News magazine, Emma Hudson from Access all Areas and Susie Harwood from C&IT magazine thought that social media and society would have been more influential factors, and said that they welcomed stories from the industry about sustainability initiatives.
Importantly, a significant 81% of people surveyed said that sustainability is not a barrier to creativity. The report outlined the expectations of corporate planners and how the supply chain could provide more creative and sustainable options. The panel of speakers from Anglian Water, Formula E and Smyle looked at examples of how sustainability could inspire creativity which makes business sense.
The Report shows that there is still work to be done, however. Whilst it is clear brands understand that sustainability is vital for their business success, this understanding does not consistently carry through to the delivery of their events. Summit attendees heard from a global panel of corporate planners who shared how their brands communicate their sustainability message across the business and within their events.
Commenting on the report findings, SES Founding Partner Rick Stainton of Smyle said: “What the research showed very clearly is that corporate event planners have a real passion for, and understanding of, the need forsustainable events. A number of the people we spoke to even believe that there is the potential for it to be a world-changing power if all event planners used their events to create a positive impact.
“This feeling was echoed by the discussions and debates during the Summit and I am really encouraged by not only the findings of the report, but also the obvious willingness of everyone in the room to drive sustainability to the top of the industry’s agenda. I would therefore like to thank everybody who supported and attended the Summit for joining us in the shared belief that sustainable events are not only the right way forward, but that they also make sound creative and business sense.”
Expanding on this, Fiona Pelham of Sustainable Events Ltd added: “A second dominant theme from the research is that planners’ understanding of sustainability is non-negotiable, demonstrating that sustainability is almost past the phase of being a trend and has now moved into being a requirement. This should influence the event industry’s focus, training requirements and budget setting.
“The Sustainable Events Summit 2016 has moved the conversation on from best practice and trends to an understanding of corporate planners’ expectations and requirements of future partnerships, from measurement to social procurement,” she concluded.
The full Global Sustainable Events Summit 2016 Report is available from the Sustainable Events Summit website www.sustainableeventssummit.com/summit priced at £60 + vat.