How can event managers make event travel more sustainable?

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Spring 2016

Transportation issues are causing a variety of problems at events and affecting large amounts of co2 emissions to be released into the air. 

The Show Must Go On (2015)

Travel and transportation to events have a large impact on co2 emissions being released into the air. Event managers need to be aware of this and become more sustainable to help the environment. Event goers need to be informed about travel arrangements prior to the event to help give them other options than driving their own vehicle. Other travel options could potentially be, getting the train or bus to the event to help lower carbon emissions. Notifying event goers about travel options before the event may change the way people think about their method of transportation to help boost sustainability at events.  England has a great variety of public transport whether it’s for a city based events with trains or tubes or a country side event, with specific event buses. However, event managers need to be aware of public transport and try to promote this method of travel to reduce environmental impacts.

‘Domestic transport accounts for one third of total carbon emissions, with passenger miles from leisure activities accounting for 39% of this,’ The Show Must Go On (2015).

Event managers need to be aware of sustainable transportation to reduce co2 emissions into the environment. There are a variety of ways in which event managers can help to lower emissions, which can happen if the event is carefully planned and  ran.

What Can Be Done?

Lift Share – The most popular form of transportation to events is usually driving a car, people assume that it is the most logical and easiest way for event attendees to travel. This method of transportation is great when there is a car full of people, however there becomes a problem when there are empty seats. Event managers need to promote lift sharing at events to reduce on carbon emissions and boost sustainability at events. To promote lift sharing, there could be penalties for cars which aren’t full, or a charge determined on number of passengers, to create extra pressure for full cars, Jones (2010). Glastonbury has a GoCarShare scheme that let drivers connect with other festival goers to share lifts to help lower the number of cars attending, congestion and carbon emissions,Glastonbury, (2012).

Public Transport – Public transport is a great way to reduce on carbon emissions and start the event early for attendees. The Big Green Gathering charges £30 per vehicle for event parking, to help try and reduce car numbers. They also offer regular shuttle busses which go back and forth from town for event attendees to go to the nearest shops to stock up on supplies, to prevent people from driving, Green Gathering Charity (2013). When event attendees travel by public transport, it benefits the event as there are more parking spaces available and less co2 emissions being released, Hampshire (2015).

Incentives – Incentives are a great way to reward good behaviour which can be given out in a variety of forms, vouchers and discounts on parking, food or drinks. The UKs Download Festival has a programme in place which encourages people to use all seats in cars. When cars arrive at the festival parking attendants identify full cars and give them an opportunity to win VIP passes to get them special areas, Jones (2010). 

When event mangers reduce transport co2 emissions at events it can have a variety of benefits:

  • Improve reputation of event as they are showing they are dedicated to boosting the events sustainability
  • Reduce expenditure, by using local products and cutting down on consumption can reduce spending and also cut down on waste and energy output
  • Raise awareness, promoting sustainability to everyone at the event from event goers, staff, performing acts
  • Benefit community, by using local suppliers reduces travel co2 emissions and benefits the area of where the event is being held.
  • Influence other event managers, if an event receives positive reviews when ran in a sustainable way, it might encourage other event manager to become more green. Jones (2010)

Event managers need to promote green transportation at events to help reduce co2 emissions. Green ‘events’ and ‘meetings’ are becoming more popular in the events industry as they are minimising negative impacts in the environment, Bowdin (2011). If event managers follow green practice there are a variety of benefits towards the event mentioned earlier that can help boost event success. Responsible event leaders should follow through with green concepts when planning and running events to promote sustainable development for future events, Goldblatt (2011).


Ross Hughes says:

To help lower emissions festivals should put on shuttle buses from train stations
To encourage customers to use public transport rather than drive an incentive should be put in place I.e £5/10 off your rail ticket
im sure a deal could be set up with national rail as this would boast sales for them in the process and in turn they would be prepared for the extra in customers and put on more carriages
This would lower emissions and reduce traffic around the area so local residents wouldn’t get angry every year the festival was held

Thank you for your reply and ideas on ways to reduce carbon emissions and promote more sustainable transport to and from events. Incentives for public transport is a great way to reduce people travelling by car. Let’s hope event travel becomes more sustainable in the future!

Ashley Illston says:

What a great article on event sustainability! Event managers need to be more aware of travel arrangements to reduce co2 emissions.

Thank you for your comment Ashley!

A very informative and interesting read, well done! I also like the style of the article using different fonts and sizes. Although there are several incentives in place, there is still a long way to go for festival organisers to encourage all event attendees to use public transport, people would rather not carry all their heavy bags and be sat waiting in long/busy queues for hours!

Thank you for your response on sustainable transport. You are right, event managers need to find a solution to help make public transport easier and more appealing for event goers.

Charlotte Alexander says:

extremely interesting article. Sustainability is a growing issue that the industry needs to adopt.

Thank you for your feedback Charlotte, this is an issue that needs to be thought about when planning future events.

Harry Smith says:

Really interesting and informative article. Some of the incentives I’ve never heard of which shows the need for event managers to properly promote these incentives to a larger audience. Thank you for a great article.

Thank you for your feedback Harry! Sustainable transport is an important issue that needs to be considered when event managers are planning events.

I completely agree that festivals need to educate people further on other methods of transportation to festivals. If festivals made it easier for people by running more shuttle buses or offering an incentive for people who get creative with their travel then maybe more people would seek other ways of getting to festivals. Great blog!

Ryan Davies says:

Really good read, you make plenty of good points.

Liam Palmer says:

Very good read. Event managers need to be more aware of transportation impacts to the environment to and from events. Public transport needs to more efficient and appealing to reduce carbon emission.

Thank you for your comment Liam. You are right, event managers need to make transport more appealing for event goers.

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