Sustainability as a central theme for meetings and events

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Sustainability is a crucial and competitive issue for the meetings and events industry. It is a moral duty, a social responsibility, business opportunity, and strategic decision. Sustainability means that events should be profitable and efficient but also ethical and eco-friendly. It encompasses three pillars: Social, Governance, and Environmental (ESG).

In-person meetings and events are the traditional and most common way of organizing gatherings. Offering many benefits, such as high engagement, rich experience, and brand visibility, they also have some drawbacks, think of high cost, high carbon footprint, and limited accessibility. Therefore, selecting venues and planning in-person meetings and events with sustainability as a central theme is crucial and requires careful consideration and evaluation.

Planning sustainable meetings and events

Sustainability must be incorporated in every regular step taken when planning an event, such as defining the goals, the budget, the audience, and the event's agenda. It also requires thorough research and analysis of the market, the competitors, and the trends. However, one of the most critical aspects of planning meetings with sustainability as a central theme is choosing the correct format and venue for the event.

The event's format refers to the type, the size, the duration, and the structure of the event. It depends on the event's purpose, objectives, and outcomes. For instance, some standard formats for in-person meetings and events are conferences, seminars, workshops, trade shows, exhibitions, and networking events. Each form has advantages and disadvantages, requiring a different approach and strategy. However, when sustainability is placed at its core, the design should also consider the event's environmental impact, social responsibility, and economic viability.

The event’s venue refers to the physical location and the facilities where the event takes place. It depends on the availability, the capacity, and the suitability of the venue. For instance, some typical meeting venues are conference centers, hotels, resorts, convention halls, and stadiums. Each platform has its own features and characteristics and requires a different level of negotiation and coordination. Again, when sustainability is centered, the venue should also demonstrate a commitment to environmental protection, social inclusion, and economic development.

Selecting sustainable venues for meetings and events

Sustainable venue selection is a challenging and complex process that involves a lot of factors and criteria, such as:

  • Location: Generally, the venue's location should be convenient and accessible for attendees, speakers, and sponsors. It should also be appealing and reflect the event's theme and image. Regarding sustainability, the location should minimize the travel distance and the carbon footprint of the attendees, plus support the local culture and community of the destination’s region.
  • Capacity: The venue's capacity should match the expected number and attendee profile. It should also allow enough space and flexibility for different seating arrangements and layouts. When considering sustainability, the capacity should also optimize the use of resources and the energy efficiency of the venue.
  • Facilities: The venue's facilities should include all the necessary equipment and services for the event, such as audiovisual, lighting, sound, internet, catering, security, and parking. They should also be modern, functional, reliable, and meet the quality and safety standards. However, when sustainability is a central theme, the facilities should also use renewable energy sources, reduce waste generation, and offer green catering options, such as organic, local, and vegetarian food.
  • Cost: The cost of the venue should fit the budget and the expectations of the event, including other fees, such as rental, deposit, cancellation, and overtime. It should also offer discounts and incentives, such as complimentary rooms, upgrades, or freebies. Adding sustainability, the cost should also reflect the event's value and impact, plus support the venue's sustainability goals and initiatives.
  • Reputation: The venue's reputation should be positive, credible, and demonstrate a track record of success and satisfaction. It should also have some accreditations and certifications referring to sustainability, accessibility, or diversity. However, a sustainable reputation also showcases the venue's best practices and innovations in terms of environmental protection, social responsibility, and economic development.


In-person meetings and events are a valuable and effective way of organizing gatherings in the meeting and event industry. By choosing the correct format and venue for the event with sustainability as a central theme, planners and venues can create a memorable and impactful event that meets the goals and expectations of the organizers and the attendees while contributing positively to our society and the planet.


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