The Debate is arising – Who Changes Change?

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Spring 2016

Events are widely recognised as an important phenomena, with many corporate companies gaining benefit from the social, economic, and cultural potential of events,but who implicates the change towards sustainable events? Where does the drive for a more sustainable industry derive from? And who is making the decisions that could change the way we live in the world in the future?

Advancing the green events conversation

In fact, the presence of a sustainable policies and ideas is arguably what elevates green events from a developing experience trend to a planning strategy with set end results. The more both companies, employees and consumers are educated the more knowledge we have as people to progress. So the big question arises, who is it that kick starts identifying present practices of competitors, desired developments and customer’s values?!

Educating people can have considerable impact

  • If every event embedded a carbon offset fee into registration, the meetings industry could collectively contribute over 3 billion pounds to investments in cleaner, renewable energy solutions
  • Choosing chicken over beef on a delegate menu for a 2,650 person banquet saves enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool
  • If every meeting reused one banner, it would keep enough vinyl from landfill to cover 760 American football fields


Could it be the consumers?

Individuals already significantly committed to sustainable behaviour often use events as a source of encouragement and leverage for their lifestyle choices. This may be, as an example, apparent when choosing a sustainable venueMany individual consumers encouraging sustainable development are therefore becoming the driving force to events and event companies having to alter corporate strategy.

Firstly and fundamentally this is to ensure they have a competitive advantage, therefor being financially sustainable. And secondly thinking of events and its impact on business and the world we live in, therefor being environmentally sustainable.

This idea of sustainable partnerships between individuals and events brings together in today’s most cutting edge technologies and methods for creating fast-paced world of global business, success is marked by the ability to stay on top of sustainable developments and to recognize new trends therefore delivering what the customer expects.

For instance clearly were all a fan of efficient travel, right? Of course we are, however there’s plenty of insight for event planners to take from this too as travel of attendees for instance on average represents 73% of the event’s total carbon footprint. For one car sharing costs significantly less – than not car sharing, but what if the planners or venues had offered discounted rates for delegates who do car share? Or will incentives such as this only come into play when consumers have demanded it?

Should it be the corporate companies?

Embedding sustainability into the core of business enables the company to create more value across various capitals, although it is still considered globally as being a risk as well as a great opportunity. Many business who follow Total Quality Management systems will see that this is where TQM and sustainability meet. And often when sustainability practises are considered within a company it is incorporated and integrated deeper as more of a business culture and could in the future revolutionise the way we do business.

Recent findings are a reminder of how corporate companies influence our environment with 90 companies, reported to have between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated. 

When you think about it although many companies like to consider their corporate social responsibility as a way of being a “responsible business” it completely eliminates the aspect of internal responsibility and the effects this has. Whereas a company many source sustainable venues or initiatives, is the internal functions of that same business contradicting itself? Or is it that many managers have good intentions when it comes to improving the environmental impact of their businesses, but not enough who think climate change is an actual threat to their businesses yet?

The trick, and the one thing that is going to set companies and employees apart moving forward, is the ability balance sustainability and profitability both in house and externally. At the moment, around half of a global market consider environmental factors such as climate change as an issue, but this is not enough to really facilitate the changes that need to be made to improve the environmental impact of the business and industrial sectors. So will it have to be a competitive move to consider sustainable practises for businesses in years to come? Or may it be that it only comes into place internally when external events and venues demand it?

So is it business or consumers that best affect change?

Due to the influence of global government initiatives, in particular sustainability standards, it helps increases business’ thinking around their corporate social responsibility and surely this can only be a good thing?

Although while these strategies are determined, less thought is put into the actual implementation and new insights concerning how this can be put firmly into place may still need to be bridged.

So onto consumers, their impact on starting the ball rolling could be considered more influential. As consumers demand for more sustainable events and venues to fit in line with their company’s ethics, to secure business events and venues would have to become more in line with consumer’s way of thinking, suggesting that do consumers currently have more power than they may think?

Do YOU agree?

Could YOU be the consumer to change events forever?


Lisa Douglas says:

Being a Tourism and Hospitality student I have become aware of sustainable practice within the industry, a lot of hotels and large businesses post pieces on sustainable practice on their website to show their corporate social responsibility, however I do not think that the consumer is aware enough of the affects of non sustainable practice. Personally I probably wouldn’t choose a hotel solely on their sustainability, but I also feel that I do no know a lot of the facts, as you mentioned. I think that if consumers become more educated in this area it will then encourage businesses to become more sustainable.

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Lisa, Thanks for your comment! Its an intresting point and I am in agreement the more educated consumers are the quicker we will see change. Thanks again!

Joanna Schwemin says:

This was an interesting read, with the beginning facts really catching my attention as someone who does not know much behind the scenes when it comes to events. I agree that in order for changes to be made consumers need to be made aware of the facts as companies market for the consumers and what they think will grab their attention the most.

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Joanna, Thanks for reading! Its an inresting discussion

I think education and awareness is such a good start! A really interesting debate.

Jasmclennan says:

Thanks Rachel – I agree!

Magdalen Smith says:

Whilst most people may choose sustainable options and understand the importance of this, I do think everything still comes back to money and budget. If the sustainable option ties in with this, than it’s a win-win, however if not, I suspect sustainability slips down the priority list.
As an event organiser, I would love to have more of an influence in making sustainable event decisions, however, being an intermediary agent, my client is the decision maker, so I don’t have much power over this. I think the responsibility for change needs to come from the corporate companies, however without pressure from consumers I can’t see that corporate companies will push sustainability to be a priority. So yes, I agree that consumers probably do have more power than they think!

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Magdalen, Thank you for your comment and taking the time to read my blog! I think thats a great point, its really important to understand not everyone in the events industry is the final decision maker, it may be more about targeting the right individuals. Thanks!

Daniel Sweet says:

Great article Jasmine – interesting stuff. Unfortunately, focus on sustainability comes and goes in our industry and I believe that, for the most part, neither those providing the events or those paying for them have really taken it VERY seriously or consider it an important factor. Personally, I think it’s business that can influence more than the consumer, it’s the businesses that have the buying power hence they’re the biggest influencer. I think businesses need to shift it up a few notches in their priorities when ‘buying an event’ to force the venues/ providers to treat it as a bigger concern than they currently do. I think far more venues could do very well out of properly differentiating themselves in terms of shouting about a very effective and/ or an up-to-date sustainability policy. It’s a ‘sales pitch’ that seems rarely used by venues!

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Dan, thanks for reading and commenting on my blog! Thats a really good point – if venues used sustainability as a way of selling there venues more, they may be able to make a significant difference. As sustainability within events is only ever going to rise in significance lets hope both consumers and business work together even more. Thanks!

Great Information Jas,
I never thought about this before, but i believe that consumers are the people who encourage change. Education is great way to start. Really interesting Blog to read!

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Felicity, it is an interesting topic! I also agree I think that when consumers start educating other consumers there will be a more significant change

Hi Jas, a really interesting topic which got me thinking. At present I think that businesses are so tuned in to consumers needs and therefore it is the consumers that need to start making changes, or as you say influence this change to begin with. However in terms of incentives to car share as per your example, I think it is businesses who need to be one step of the game to ensure that they are influencing the consumer to think openly, innovatively and creatively in terms of their next steps and greater impacts on both a global scale and a community one.


Jasmclennan says:

Hi Jessie! Thanks for reading my blog, yes I agree! There is more and more focus on customer satisfaction and when more customers demand sustainable venues and events more business may act! Great point regarding business thinking more creative about incentives, hopefully we will see this happen

Claire Wyld says:

Enjoyed reading this very interesting debate jasmine .

Jasmclennan says:

Thanks Claire, I am glad you enjoyed!

Val Carter says:

Maybe not the consumer to change the world but I do in a small way help. As recycle as much of my waste as possible. It’s good to see that young people are extremely interested in the environment what ever their future careers may take them

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Val, thank you for reading my blog! Its great that sustainability as a whole is something more individuals are being educated on and taking responsibility for. Lets hope more events follow the lead!

Di Finch says:

Hi Jas Interesting topic. As you say comsumers should also make sure they are aware of making changes. An example is your comment on car sharing.

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Di, its really important that consumers demand the change for companies to realy invest in sustainability. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

Helen Green says:

What an interesting topic. I think the carbon offset fee is a great idea and an incentive for companies to change their future plans and strategies.

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Helen, thanks for taking the time to read my blog! Im in agreement, great way of viewing the changes to be made – Companies need to devlop their future stratagies to make them more effective and come into place quicker.

Amy Louise says:

Hi Jas,

What an interesting view, considering consumers to be more influential. I agree to a certain extent. As more and more businesses are changing their strategies to a more customer centric model. I definitely agree that consumers can play a huge part in influencing the way business act responsibly.

However I believe that consumers need to be more aware, so great at starting to raising this issue to my attention. With the increase of social media I think this change is possible. It could protentially only takes one influential person to make a stand and create a snow ball effect. Such as the likes of Martin Luther King. Thank you for bringing this to my attention I hadn’t thought of it from the consumers point of view before.

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Amy! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I love your famous individual reference, I can also see as you have mentioned many companies becoming more focused on the customers needs. Hopefully by raising awareness many people will follow!

Harriet Gibbons says:

A very insightful read, raising points that I’d never personally even considered. You are so right that by simply educating people can have a huge impact on our environment, but the education is needed first as we as people going about our daily lives are naive towards such issues. I couldn’t believe that purely by choosing chicken over beef on a huge banquet can save enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool!! I think it’s a great idea for organisers of events to offer discounted rates for people who car share – and that is something I would personally do – particularly for those added benefits we as consumes could get out of it! 🙂

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Harriet, Thank you for your comments! I know the menu choice fact is one of the reasons I became even more intrested in this topic, by eduacting people differences can be made. Its great to know you would take incentives such as discounted car sharing, maybe incentives like this may take off!

Hannah Lucas says:

Hi Jas, extremely interesting and an on-going challenging topic. For organisations seeking to encourage that change, the key is to identify sustainable behaviours that are achievable but still have an impact. It is with consumer choices that are a critical part of achieving environmental sustainability, decision-makers – whether in the public or the private sector – must work out what levers are most likely to prompt changes in behaviour.

It’s not as easy to just say ‘Save the world’, that doesn’t help. The right and specific behaviours have to be picked.

Thank you Jas!


Jasmclennan says:

Hi Hannah, Thank you for reading my blog! I agree, sustainable issues around events are ongoing as you have mentioned and finding out what can change behaviour is essential! Thanks again!

Dave Carter says:

Hi Jas,
Lots of things there that I’d never considered before a very interesting read.

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Dave, thanks for your comment! It was a really interesting topic to write about

Paul Mclennan says:

A very interesting and thought provoking blog jasmine .I agree that consumers are the most influential when it comes to change as they have the choice and financial power to do this but any company/business that are openly and forward thinking can with great effect provoke these changes if they are in tune with the public/clients

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Paul! Thanks for your comment on my blog! I agree, my making people think outside of the box it enlightens people as to what they can do within events to make a change. Great point about forward thinking companies too lets hope more companies become so!

Mick says:

This is a compelling read about a very interesting topic, I believe that corporate companies should be making the change mainly then the consumers will be likely to follow, impressive blog!

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Mick! Thank you for reading my blog! Its an interesting arguement who can make the bigger impact and who should! Thanks for your comment

Natasha Cole says:

Hi Jasmine,
This was a very interesting read as I did not know much about this topic. I very much enjoyed reading this!

Jasmclennan says:

Hi Natasha, thanks for your comment! Im glad the read was of interest to you

Very interesting read! i agree that companies need to do more to educate attendees on the effects that events have on the environment. The majority of companies are now trying to do all that they can from their side to protect the environment, so maybe now its down to the consumer to do the same.

Jasmclennan says:

Hi! Thank you for reading my blog! Thats a really great point the general point of view is that education is the key. And yes if consumers and companies are on the same page a big difference could be made! Thanks

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