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Sustainability on the Agenda for Event Planners


Sustainability on the Agenda for Event Planners

Anna Murricane, Business Development Manager at the Cultural Venues of Edinburgh

Events are big business in Scotland, with the Scottish Events and Festivals Association (SEFA) reporting that the industry is currently worth an estimated £3.5 billion a year to the Scottish economy. We’ve achieved many remarkable feats over the last five years as we’ve worked to establish Scotland as an elite event destination but at the Assembly Rooms we’re always looking for ways in which we can continue to develop and improve; and ultimately enhance our reputation nationally, and internationally, on the world stage.

But when focusing on social and economic aspects of growth in the industry, we must not forget our environmental responsibility. We need to understand the impact of our jobs, the way we communicate, the events we coordinate - and the footprint we’re leaving.

As environmental awareness continues to grow, everyone in the meetings and events space has to strengthen and demonstrate their green credentials. Clients are looking for the most sustainable, waste reducing options at every stage, from planning to execution. This means everything from the venue, activities, and even menus selected as a part of the event must present green qualities.

The heightened awareness of sustainability is broadening expectations for all players in the supply chain, with many implementing green solutions at events – usually at no additional cost. Organisations are actively promoting their sustainable credentials as a key buy in factor, with many including sustainability suggestions within their proposals, creating their own environmental policies, as well as encouraging local suppliers to become more eco-friendly.

Going green has significant benefits for organisers, delegates and, of course, the environment. And events perceived as being green have additional benefits for their organisers as these sustainable and CSR efforts resonate with attendees, helping build brand loyalty and likeability.

On the ground, there has also been a shift to paperless events, avoiding the use of printed material at every stage – from e-invites to event apps which keep attendees informed about the programme and allow delegates to share presentations and notes electronically. These event specific apps allow more interaction between delegates and can facilitate online audience participation opportunities during events, with opinion surveys and voting polls giving the audience a sense of control.

This has opened up a door for event planners and businesses to change the way they operate, ultimately increasing delegate engagement and increase their digital offering while taking ownership of their carbon footprint.

For now, events and venues with environmental certifications may have a competitive advantage but as expectations rise, we see this soon becoming a minimum requirement rather than a differentiating factor. We must embrace these opportunities to push ourselves, and further develop our green credentials as an industry, proving that a fantastic multipurpose venue or great event doesn't have to cost the earth.


Anna will be at EventIt, the annual showcase for the business events, meetings, incentives, hospitality and festivals industry professionals in Scotland, on 21 March 2019.

Come and say hi at stand A1b