Have you heard about the Sustainable Event Awards? It’s probably old news to you that sustainability is a topic we love discussing. Because we’ve covered it several times here at Endless! And today we’ll be dabbling on it again but in a more exciting way. It’s not just about how to plan sustainable events. But rather, how to push the trend forward and make sure everyone jumps on the bandwagon. And that’s exactly where the Sustainable Event Awards come in.
So joining our incredible host Brandt Krueger is Adam Parry. And you might know Adam as the co-founder and editor of the event industry’s global online magazine, Event Industry News. He is also the mind behind the Event Tech Live Awards, and, more recently, the Sustainable Event Awards. Adam has a lot to tell us about this new endeavor, and the potential it has to push the industry forward. So let’s get iconic – press play and join us for another episode of #EventIcons!
The Road To The Sustainable Event Awards
“So, we launched Event Tech Live seven or eight years ago. But previous to that, we’d actually been out on a familiarization trip as part of Event Industry News to a new exhibition hall opening in Taiwan”, explains Adam. “And as part of that, we got toured around a number of exhibition organizers and a number of live shows, which was great to see how that region and those organizers put their events on. One of the things that struck me and my business partner was actually how there was no carpet used on the show floors of the exhibition hall. It was quite widely accepted that it wasn’t worth the waste and the impact that that carpet brought to it. And the exhibition halls themselves, the exhibition venues, actually did a really good job of making sure that those show floors just looked great, to be fair”.
“So, we started talking to them a little bit more about their approach to sustainability. And that resonated with us when we came back and eventually launched Event Tech Live. We took that same approach. But we took the view that if we could not have to use carpet across the show floor, not only would it be a sustainable business practice for us as an organization, but we would also not have the impact then of having to recycle, reuse, or bring that carpet in. And we started thinking about other sustainable practices we could do with Event Tech Live”.
Paving The Way To Sustainability
“One thing that we do is we try and encourage, especially our international customers, to all use a similar logistics company that we have. That enables fewer impacts from those items coming from the inbound point to the venue. We don’t have to have lots of trucks, and vehicles, especially in London, impacting the community around there”, says Adam. “We supply water points all around the show. And encourage our visitors to bring their own containers with them to be able to take from that, rather than going to the caterer and using plastic bottles. And then having to deal with those in waste. We have obviously our waste recycling program onsite, both for contractors and visitors”.
“And then that even filters down to some of the sponsorship opportunities that we might offer”, he adds. “We regularly get asked, “Can we do the bag giveaways? Can we have a branded bag giveaway?” And that’s something we’ve been super resistant to. In terms of, we don’t want to necessarily have that knowing that the likelihood is that those bags are not going to get reused for anything else. They’re going to get taken home by the attendee. And then kind of just shelved or recycled, hopefully. Or even worse, just thrown in the trash. So, even our sponsorship opportunities, we tend to focus more on digital elements that also can be tracked. And obviously provide more value than even from branding for the event. So, it’s just little things like that that we kind of feed to the show”.
Why Create The Sustainable Event Awards?
“We’ve been very aware of other suppliers, organizers, venues doing sustainable things. Trying to do their own reduction. And there are accreditations out there, there are ISOs. However, the feedback to us has been very much so that some of those accreditations are quite hard to achieve. Plus, quite intensive in order to maintain. And maybe even only achievable for some of the larger organizations that have got the bandwidth, the manpower, and the cash to invest in getting those accreditations”.
“And as when we launched the Event Technology Awards, we felt that the same was happening for sustainability”, says Adam. “That there was nowhere really for the industry to get the recognition within their field, within their supply, and within a fair gauge of their supply. As well as what they were doing as individuals, as suppliers, as venues, and even as organizers. So, that was one of the main drivers for us to launch the Sustainable Event Awards. To give a platform for those three verticals to get the recognition they deserve”.
“Second to that was to give the wider industry a place to come and learn about what the industry was doing from a sustainability point. The idea of the awards is actually to create more awareness in the industry around large and small sustainable practices that can be adopted. And, therefore, make you more sustainable as well. So, those were the two core reasons”, he explains.
Brandt wonders how they make their intentions known in regards to making the industry sustainable. “So, I think there’s a couple of different areas”, says Adam. “And this is the ongoing process even while we’ve launched these awards and the entry process is about to open. So, the first thing is the categories. We made sure that the categories represented that as well”.
“So, let’s take venues. You know, there are categories for venues over a certain size, and then there are categories for venues under a certain size as well. So, that allows them to compete within a fair kind of standard”, Adam explains. “And from our criteria, one of the important things that we’ve already identified is obviously it’s going to be about measurement. And it’s going to be about people providing us the information to show that they have had a positive impact. But that’s not necessarily going to be the largest number. That’s not going to be the person who’s made the biggest reduction overall. It might be the individual, organization, supplier, or organizer that’s actually made the biggest contribution percentage-wise. Based on the size of their business, and the size of their event, and the size of their venue”.
“So, we’ve been very careful when we’re coming up with these criteria. And it’s still an ongoing process. We’re currently talking to a couple of industry bodies and a number of other people to make sure this criterion is impactful and fair. Which will, again, be an ongoing process as we evolve the awards over the years. But we’ve been very careful to make sure that the criteria are fair to everybody that enters and gives them a fair crack at hopefully winning an award”.
Brandt inquires about the shortlisting process for the Sustainable Event Awards. “So, as an organization, there’s a shortlisting process which identifies outliers. People who haven’t followed the rules. Or maybe even just made that mistake of they’ve entered within a time period that’s outside of the time period that you’ve given”, says Adam.
“And on these particular awards, there are actually quite a few more than we have on the Event Technology Awards. But when you actually take something like sustainability, and then you start to apply that to actually giving people a fair chance within their field, then you do end up coming up with… I think we’ve got in the region of shy of 60, or something. Any less than that, if you actually start combining all of these venues together, when you look at them as individual businesses, then it actually becomes very hard to compete. Let’s say we just have one venue category, then it becomes super hard for those to get recognition against their peers. And you almost pay lip service to the fact that you’re just kind of throwing a few categories up”, he adds.
The Final List
“One of the things that we are asking for is evidence of what they are doing. Things like sustainability policies, measurements, data, information, where they started, where they’re going to. So, the entry process is around three months for this initial year. That will then go through a review and shortlisting process. We already have over 20 judges lined up, some industry professionals, some people with experience within event logistics, venues, supply chain, as organizers, as agencies, as brands. So, experience themselves by either using or having sustainable practices in place. And hopefully looking for more of that”.
“But we’ve also gone out of the sector to really look at some buddies and professionals that are sustainably focused. Their main aim is to make the whole world, us as individuals, more sustainable. And we’re going to bring their expertise. And they’re actually helping with things like criteria at the moment. But we’re going to bring their expertise as well to hopefully judge the awards. And then that will play out into the ceremony”.
The entire process behind the Sustainable Event Awards will take place online. “Technology has moved on so much since we actually first launched The Event Technology Awards. There’s a number of platforms that can offer the ability to deliver really engaging, really great platforms. And tailored to delivering events online with interaction from the audiences, being able to stream to multiple platforms”, says Adam.
“So, we decided to take that leap and forge ahead ourselves. And try a different way of delivering an awards program. This is obviously a global program as well. So, again, from the standpoint of, we get companies and organizers from the U.S., and Australia, and the APEC region, maybe the Middle East, maybe South Africa. If they’re all entering, then it’s kind of counterintuitive to ask them to fly all the way from wherever they are to the U.K. for an evening’s entertainment and hopefully win an award. The impact just of that alone would actually be super counterintuitive to what the awards ceremony is about”.
“So, we hope that we can leverage the technology to engage the global world of event professionals. And it’s going to be the first time we’ve done it”, he adds.
A Time For Opportunity
As of right now, the events industry is facing the consequences of what has been declared a global pandemic. And even though it’s a time of struggle, Adam also sees it as a time for opportunity. “One, to come together as an industry a little bit closer. But also to maybe explore opportunities and technology like virtual or hybrid meetings”, he says. “And that’s not to replace the face to face. Because there will be absolutely nothing ever in this world that will replace face to face events”.
“But actually, from my point of view, the biggest advantage when it comes to virtual or hybrid event platforms is actually we, as organizers, could nurture a community. Provide really good learning opportunities, great content, great opportunities for sponsors. You know, very much in the same way that many advertisers do now digitally. They put their brand in front of an engaged audience around a particular topic, or a particular publication”, he adds. “And then actually use the ground that they’ve built up with that community, and using digital platforms, and virtual event platforms to actually then launch great opportunities and face to face events for that community to come together, and actually connect up with each other. Because they’ve connected it with each other online. So why wouldn’t they want to meet that person that they’ve spoken to for the last six months online on these various event platforms?”.
Your #1 Tip For Sustainability
Adam leaves us with the best advice he has under his sleeve for those seeking to become more sustainable. “Just ask that one simple question to every vendor, every venue, and every organizer or connection that you have within the sector. Don’t be scared to ask your venue for what their sustainability policy is. Don’t be scared to ask your suppliers what sustainable practices did they have within their organization”, he says.
“Maybe that’s product services, or maybe that’s just culturally within that business. Maybe they do something that makes them a more sustainable supplier. And then through that, your choices can have an impact on the sustainability of your events. But when it comes to your network, reach out to your network, ask for ideas, and tips, and knowledge, and share what do you do”.
And that’s a wrap on this week’s edition of #EventIcons! If you’re interested in submitting your application to the Sustainable Event Awards, you have until March 24th. And if you want to check out the ceremony, you can do so from the comfort of your own home. Make sure you join us again next week for another iconic episode!