3 Ways COVID-19 Will Positively Affect Event Sustainability

I remember when new year’s hit, everyone was super pumped and talking about how 2020 was going to be their year. One thing after another and then the pandemic hit. The world completely shut down. One thing is for sure, the event industry was the first ones out and will be one of the last to return. As event professionals, we did we what did best when things don’t go as planned, we get creative. Some of us adapted quickly and have converted conferences into virtual ones and presentations to webinars. And if you’re anything like me – you’re currently dying to be on-site running around and putting out those unexpected fires so to speak. From an event sustainability perspective though, this pandemic will have a positive impact on the industry. In fact it has caused: a shift in our mindset, a trend to support local businesses and a consideration of hybrid events in the future. Which are all good things for both our physical environment and ultimately our health.

Shift in Mindset

The world has never experienced anything like this – a total shut down. As the resilient people that we are, we’ve had to think of ways we can creatively produce an event or find an alternative solution for our current clients. Take Claudine for example, she’s a Customer Marketing Manager at SmartSimple Software and Founder of Event Mango, she took multiple day in-person conference and quickly turned it into a virtual one! Read more about the conference here.

Other businesses have found new ways to better serve their clients and community. The team at EVNT MGMT created a Webinar Series called – Getting Back to Business for everyone in the Hospitality Industry. They covered topics from Healthy & Safety, Marketing & PR to The Future of Event Planning. Check out the webinar series here!

I’ve seen businesses shift their way of thinking. They have become more thoughtful in their planning and execution. We’ve been given the time to take a step back and re-think the status quo and the impact our actions have on our health and environment. This awareness and desire for change is key to incorporating eco-friendlier options into the event planning process.

Buying Locally

Our local businesses have been hit the hardest, some of which may not be able to survive through this pandemic. That being said, I’ve seen our local communities come together to support each other in any way we can, from purchasing gift cards for retail stores to ordering take out from our favourite restaurants. I’ve even seen the event team from Designed Dream Events create packages called, “Event in a Box” – a professionally styled event and catered 3-course dinner that’s delivered right to your door! They’ve partnered with several local businesses such as florists and caterers to make this service a reality.

The beauty of coming together and supporting our community is not only keeping small businesses alive but also encouraging people to buy locally rather than from large corporations. By buying locally (not only food but products as well) for our events, it means purchasing items from within 100km (60 mi) of the host city. This forces items to only be delivered by ground transportation but it massively decreases the amount of carbon (a greenhouse gas) emissions emitted into the atmosphere. As we continue to adapt to the “new normal” and we nurture these local partnerships, our events will have an immensely lower impact on the physical environment.

Hybrid Events

With the immediate growth and transition to the virtual world of events, event professionals, clients and attendees have been compelled to familiarize themselves with the use of this technology. This is very encouraging as this technological barrier is being removed and enables the possibility of hybrid events in the future.

As large conferences and festivals will be the last to return, we can work around this by producing a live event and collaborating with our A/V partners to live-stream or record the sessions for our out-of-town attendees. This will not only decrease the amount travel (yay, less flights and air pollution), it will produce less physical waste for the landfills while also increasing the accessibility of these live events beyond the local and surrounding communities! More attendees means more ticket sales (virtual passes anyone?) and potentially even more sponsorship opportunities.

I’m incredibly excited to see what the future has to hold for the events community in regard to sustainability. We must be mindful of our actions and care about our impact on the earth if we want the planet to continue to sustain us. This pandemic has given the opportunity for everyone to change their way of thinking, to encourage buying from local suppliers and to incorporate hybrid events in the future. What about you? What do you think the future holds for event sustainability? Leave a comment below.

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