When planning an event, sustainability may come up in conversation as a “nice-to-have.” We all want to do our part for the environment, but when it comes down to making decisions for an event, sustainability often falls low on the priority list. What many event planners don’t realize is that sustainability is a vital component of the overall guest experience.
Consider the following attitudes Americans have about issues related to sustainability, from the Shelton Group’s 2013 Eco Pulse survey:
- 39% of Americans feel guilty about wasting food
- 27% of Americans feel guilty about wasting water
- 22% of Americans feel guilty about wasting electricity
- 21% of Americans feel guilty about not recycling
If you have an event with 100 guests, that means 39 of those guests may experience anxiety if they think food is being wasted. Twenty-one of your 100 guests may feel guilty if they have to throw away an item that could have been recycled. Scores of attendees may have a negative takeaway from your event if sustainable solutions are not in place.
Guests may be reluctant to share environmental feedback in post-event surveys as they may view a lack of sustainability as a personal failure on their part rather than on the part of the event planner. Some attendees may feel guilty about attending the event at all or come to believe that attending events is inherently bad for the environment. This feeling is certainly the opposite of the positive impression event planners strive to create!
However, according to National Geographic’s 2012 Greendex survey, 47% of Americans believe their individual actions can help protect the environment. This is where the opportunity for event planners shines through. By addressing environmental concerns on your guests’ behalf, you not only eliminate stressful or negative feelings, but you create an additional positive experience by making it easy for guests to do the right thing.
Designing a memorable, carefree experience for guests is the ultimate goal of creative event professionals. With today’s global emphasis on climate change, the environment will continue to be top-of-mind for more and more attendees. Savvy event planners will be proactive about addressing guests’ environmental concerns and take advantage of the opportunity to provide delightful experiences through sustainability.