What’s Next: Event Planning and Technologies Going Green

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by Rebekah Icenesse

In the last few years, the hospitality industry has experienced a multitude of changes. From virtual to hybrid meetings and the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), the meetings and events industry has already undergone significant transformations, and it continues to rapidly evolve more. From utilizing reusable materials and resources to adopting further digital solutions, event planners are prioritizing both eco-friendly initiatives and innovative technologies that are reshaping the landscape of sustainable meetings and events.

Choosing Green Event Venues and Transportation Options

According to a 2023 study by Eventbrite, 84% of event planners incorporate sustainability into their events. Whether that be adding more recycling bins to the meeting space or using energy-saving lighting, event organizers are prioritizing booking venues that offer more opportunities for sustainability. These facilities are often designed and operated with eco-conscious principles in mind, featuring energy-efficient lighting, water-saving fixtures, better air quality, and waste management. Many venues are also now implementing green certification programs to ensure they meet stringent environmental standards. Most notably, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) announced in March their formal partnership to operate the Green Key Global sustainability certification program in the U.S. and Canada, which will provide “green” certifications to hotels around the world.

Encouraging attendees to choose eco-friendly transportation options is another trend gaining traction in the industry. With the high-profile attention on carbon emissions while traveling, event organizers are choosing locations that minimize the expense and use of environmentally harmful travel, like a hotel that also has conference space. In addition, hotels and venue spaces are investing in infrastructure, such as charging stations, to accommodate more electric vehicle usage to support the transition to cleaner transportation alternatives.

Incorporating Sustainable Strategies

When your event venue and travel options are decided, how else can you incorporate sustainability into your event? A good place to start is waste reduction. As the saying goes, “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” Implementing effective waste management and recycling is an integral component of sustainable event planning. From compostable food service ware and limiting single-use water bottles to easily located recycling bins strategically placed throughout venues, efforts can be made to divert waste from landfills and promote responsible disposal practices. You can also partner with local organizations to donate any leftover food to shelters and charities, ensuring that surplus resources are not going to waste.

One of the most critical components of any meeting or event is food and beverage choices. Food and beverage service at events is being realigned with sustainability principles. Locally sourced ingredients, organic produce, and plant-based menus are becoming more prevalent, which reduces the carbon footprint associated with food production and transportation. Ordering food that is in-season and from local vendors also provides further sustainability for your event.

Adopting Further Digital Solutions

The continuous evolvement of technology’s digital advancements has revolutionized the way we plan meetings and events. With the increased use of AI technologies and the implementation of virtual reality, planning events has become more efficient, effective, and sustainable. One tool that has become very popular is the use of QR codes. Whether it’s for tickets and registration or learning more about the event or event speakers, the usage of QR codes is an effortless solution, since every attendee will most likely already have a smartphone on hand, and it also reduces paper waste. Other technologies, like drones, mobile event applications, and virtual/augmented reality, can further enhance your event and make it a memorable, interactive experience for every attendee.

The meetings and events industry is undergoing a transformation driven by a collective commitment to sustainability and creating impactful experiences. By embracing these greener trends and leveraging efficient technologies, the industry is reducing its carbon footprint while setting a precedent for more sustainable practices in the broader business landscape.

 

MEET

Rebekah Icenesse is a contributing writer from St. Louis.

For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

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