Until now I’ve argued that green meetings are more relevant than ever and that the big question is why the event industry doesn’t take them more seriously.
My guess? Because most meeting planners are highly budget-driven and drive their supply chains purely on economics. That we haven’t stepped back to determine actual worth or consider what our philosophy is as individuals living in a world of diminishing resources and threats from a changing climate and social upheaval. That extends to industry as a whole.
We continue to drive a consumption model when it comes to delivering events, even in the face of declining budgets and potentially declining resources.
Green meetings and (here I’ll break my own rule about using this word) sustainability challenge that business model by looking at how we manage and consume resources, determine the worth of resources and pay for those resources. We want to do that without sacrificing the quality of our events and attendees’ experiences.
I believe this is possible, and that it’s the way to design, plan and execute events that have more worth. They have more worth because they’re based on a philosophy of care. Care about the health and well-being of our attendees. Care about our natural environment and the resources that sustain us. Care about the people within our economies and supply chains and how they are treated. And, yes, care about the bottom line and delivering positive financial results for our clients, companies and organizations.
In my experience, paying attention to how you manage all aspects of your event from a philosophy of care instead of lowest price leads to three things that should already be at the top of any smart meeting planners list:
- Operational efficiency
- Cost savings
- Brand enhancement and reputation (caring for attendees is what creates fans and advocates and more customer satisfaction)
If you manage your operations and resources (including people) more efficiently, save money by making smart choices about what you buy, assess trade-offs that being greener necessitates, and market your efforts through case studies and attendee/customer communications, no wise CFO would oppose the effort.
And, if you’re talking with your CFO, you might add “risk management” to the list above, an item that concerns every one of them. When you manage with a philosophy of care it inherently means you’re looking at mitigating risk.
This is what we’ve been working on at Oracle for the past five years. It has allowed us to save, and reinvest in our attendee experience, more than $1.5 million. We haven’t always paid the lowest price, but we’ve thought about the overall worth of what we’re delivering in our event cycles and made the necessary trade-offs to get there.
We’re now working on our next five-year plan. The philosophy is in place and we can start thinking even bigger to save more money and resources and deliver a higher-worth product to our attendees and the event industry.
There is, obviously, much more that can be said and much technical and practical knowledge on this topic. I hope to start delving into some of that in the coming months.