Stand Up and Stand Out with a sustainable event
As a corporate event manager, I was always on the lookout for new things to do at my events – what can we have on the stand to attract people in a busy exhibition hall? How can we make sure people who register to attend our event actually turn up?
How do you make your event stand out?
Is it a business card draw, or dare I say it – a giveaway? Yawn. Maybe you lure people to your stand with free food and drink? Don’t get me wrong, I have done all of these, and some, but have always found these approaches kind of desperate. If your sales team need to give someone a free pen to talk to them, are they in the right job? How many business cards in the draw are genuine leads vs. someone who just wants to win an iPad?
Another trend to disrupt events has been technology – that’s everything from digital communications and social media to event apps, interactive voting and the ability to live stream events. Huge technological advancements over the last 10 years which have dramatically improved the event experience for delegates. But in this ‘digital world’ that we live in, technology is very much an established pillar of every event now and no longer a driving force of change – its expected by delegates.
Many companies have taken the ‘need to disrupt’ too far and shoe-horned in technology anywhere and everywhere, just to be seen to be ‘innovating’ by showing the latest and greatest gadgets at their event. How many of them are relevant to their business, or are they just ‘doing technology’ for technology sake? Take virtual reality (VR) – incredibly clever that you can hang-glide over Mount Everest, or dive the Great Barrier Reef, all whilst in a faceless convention centre – but what’s the point? How does that connect with your brand or product offering? If you’re in financial services, not very much.
Similarly with augmented reality (AR), there are many clever applications of this, certainly in the FMCG world, but I am finding more and more organisations investing in this kind of technology because it’s the ‘thing to do’, rather than what makes sense for their business. Trying to be seen to be ‘disrupting the industry’ when really its drawing attention to the wrong things – the more you have to explain something to someone, the less impact it’s going to have.
So what’s next?
The market is certainly saturated and it has become increasingly difficult to stand out, but there is one trend for sure that’s not going anywhere and will certainly set you apart from the crowd – go sustainable.
Sustainability is in the news every day, whether it’s the war on plastic, climate change or the latest Extinction Rebellion protest – people are talking about it everywhere. Organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to be sustainable, not just from an environmental angle and because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes good business sense. Plus – customers and consumers are asking for it.
So why should you make your next event sustainable? Here’s 5 to get you started!
- Your events need a purpose
Sustainable events have a story. The food is sourced from a farm down the road. The beer is made from leftover food products. The venue support local volunteering projects. Whatever it is, there is a meaning to what you are doing, and how you are doing it. This creates a far greater connection to the event for your delegates, which makes for a far more memorable and rewarding experience. Plus a fantastic positive reflection on you as a brand.
- You can save money
There is a common misconception that sustainable events cost more money, when in fact when you break down it down, you are spending less – re-usable branding or stand design elements, watching your food and beverage orders to avoid any wastage, using renewable energy sources to power venues – it is all about driving efficiencies, which in turn saves on your budget.
- You can make money
As well as reducing your event spend, sustainable events can even drive additional revenue. Nielsen reported 66% of global consumers are happy to pay more for sustainable experiences – but in addition, by running a sustainable event, you are opening new channels of revenue – whether that is new clients or suppliers wanting to improve their own sustainability objectives, or new attendees impressed by your credentials, you are opening yourselves to new opportunity.
- You can get ahead and stand out from the crowd
The awareness and need for sustainability generally, is growing, but slowly in the event space. If you can get adopt these sustainable practices now, you will really have an early edge over your competitors. And by making these changes now, you are setting yourself up for long term, success and profitability in the future. Future regulations are inevitable – it’s far easier to make small changes and experiment with ideas now, than be forced to overhaul your whole business when it is enforced legally.
- People want the ‘feel good’ factor
Everyone is aware of the need to ‘be more sustainable’ or to ‘go green’ and people want to do the right thing, but often its too overwhelming to know where to start. So why not appeal to this social consciousness and desire through your event? Your delegates can have a fantastic time, without the guilt of the usual negative impacts of an event. Educate them through the experience to drive customer loyalty – as well as your own talent. People want to work with and for organisations who drive positive change in the world – be one of them.