I started my career in green events through attendee engagement. I was working on a martini festival in a county with a sheriff infamous for denying event permits for events with alcohol. As event organizers, we had concerns over the liability of promoting a drinking event and the potential risk of drunk drivers. Knowing that people consistently hear “don’t drink and drive,” but don’t always adhere to it, I wanted to motivate them to be safe by removing cars from the equation in a way that was creative and different.
Going green was an innovative way to encourage a different level of participation. In addition to promoting green, local and sustainable activities and products at the martini festival, we encouraged attendees to bike, ride public transportation, carpool or use festival-sponsored shuttles. Instead of preaching to them about the dangers of drinking and driving, we engaged them using a major theme of the festival. The effect was both cutting-edge and poignant.
Events are an opportunity for people to interact, learn and have a great time. Adding engagement to your green program is a way to both educate and entertain your attendees — maybe even stir up a little competition. Games like photo scavenger hunts, FourSquare badges and raffles are ways you can embed the engagement strategies into the conference experience. For example, you could:
- Take a picture in front of the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, which reuses and recycles 90 percent of its water.
- “Check in” at a restaurant where you order a vegetarian meal.
- Have raffle entries for every time an attendee refills their bottle water from a water filling station.
- Pass out badges/buttons that can be attached to the event lanyards that celebrate the times the attendee puts waste in the recycle or compost bin, takes public transportation or chooses a local food option.
The trick is to incentivize good behavior instead of punishing bad. Rewards, competition and recognition are tools to educate and increase participation.