The pandemic has shone a light on the importance of sustainability. Customers are now more aware of the need to protect the environment, and they are looking for venues and events that share their values. Venues and events that are able to meet this demand will be more successful in the future.
How to make your venue more sustainable
This is a delecate balancing act between balancing sustainability and profitability. This is a tough balancing act which you need to plan well and be extremely transparent
Covid required everyone to take stock of what they had and what they didn't need. Nobody was sure how long it would last so they needed to cut any dead weight. Throughout this audit it became pretty obvious to a lot of businesses how unsustainable their practices were. It wasn't uncommon for people to hop on a plane just to attend a meeting, and mind you it still isn't, but before the pandemic this was often the only way to effectively attend large meetings and events. But it's not just physically attending them that was the issue, the changing of technology has caused an expected shift by consumers.
Crisis can serve as a catalyst, and in the last 2 years savvy venues had an opportunity to reinvent and put themselves at the forefront of the industry. As research by IBTM Events indicates 77% of survey respondents scored "Ensuring Sustainability" as their top priority. But it's important to look at this from more than an environmental standpoint, you need to ensure that your business model and practices are sustainable.
“Do you need to provide sustainable and environmentally sensitive events (both sports and conferencing) is becoming a key decision factor for fans and delegates alike. Venues will need to tackle this head on while being extremely transparent and avoiding misleading customers by greenwashing," Nills Braude - Managing Director, Twickenham Experiences Ltd.
Becoming more sustainable is a great marketing opportunity, but it’s important that you don’t overstate what you’re doing. Sustainable practices can bring in a good amount of new clients, but these clients can quickly turn on you if they find out that you’ve lied about how much you’ve actually done. Ensure that you’re being realistic with what you can achieve and not overstating.
Being sustainable is fantastic, your actions directly impact those in your direct community and the world at large. But the higher ups will want to know that these changes aren't going to impact their bottom line. This is understandable, you're a business and you're there to make money after all. It's not uncommon for venue managers to think that implementing sustainable practices will break the bank. In reality, most of the time being sustainable relies only on using less resources than you were before. Many regions also have incentives for making sustainable changes, so it may end up costing you far less than you thought to implement eco-friendly changes. Once you've made your plans you should be communicating them with potential customers. These are the ones which you should be most vocal about.
- Being paperless
- Removing single use plastics (room keys, shampoo and soap bottles, straws etc)
- Reducing water and energy consumption
- Gathering of ingredients through local suppliers
- Reporting on environmental impact
These are the most simple changes you can make but they can have a massive impact, an impact which you should be reporting on. Many people fear putting out their internal reports on environmental impact, but guess what? If you’re making big leaps in your reduction of impact, this is a great marketing opportunity and can help you to become a leader in your industry.
Once your direct competition sees what you’re achieving they too will likely start to implement these changes. “But that’s bad, they’re taking away something that is unique to my venue,” you might say. Though this may be true, by implementing it first you’ve already solidified yourself as a trailblazer. You were at the forefront before anyone else and they’re now all following in your footsteps. More importantly, you've encouraged positive change in the industry. It’s no secret that larger venues tend to not be particularly environmentally friendly. By making changes you are actively encouraging your peers to be better. This in turn makes the industry as a whole more appealing.
Being the go-to thought leader in your industry for sustainability sets you well above your competition. Potential customers who are environmentally conscious will actively seek you out in their business. So long as you manage to stay at the forefront, you will maintain a strong competitive edge over your competition.