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Can In-Person Ever Be Sustainable?

Can In-Person Ever Be Sustainable?

11 May 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters

Live events… remember those? Thankfully, we will again soon. In the strange social landscape of 2020, we’ve seen an unexpectedly positive environmental impact. In reaction to this, the experience industry has begun to accelerate its sustainable efforts in anticipation of its restart. With large-scale summer events looking to be propelled back into reality, will we see a fusion of real-life adaptation and consumer ethics? 

Is there event sustainability?

As we know, sustainability and ethical practice is now a key ingredient to any brand’s ethos, strategy and future initiatives. While impact can already be seen in manufacturing, design and general consumption, little thought has been spared for events and physical experiences. Brand experience agencies are now actively looking to educate businesses on how to potentially minimise impact brought about by events. In reality, sustainable practices are both varied and extensive – like with any ethical change, we’re playing the long game. On a smaller scale, adjustments such as virtual registration and eliminating single-use plastics may be easier to implement. But in the planning and conception of events like trade shows, pop-ups and retail experiences, the sustainable detail will be in the design. Using structural materials like bamboo, refined set build and aligning with venues that are also actively striving for the sustainable could be steps towards long-term change.

What do brands need to remember?

The word of the hour is ‘standardised’. Making sure such practices are standardised, internal goals can help to form frameworks that inform both individual and local projects to come. A key question is whether the virtual and physical can work in harmony to better each other. With the mass switch to virtual, environmental impacts such as lack of travelling, wastage and power usage have all significantly declined. As events calendars begin to stack back up, attendees may choose a select view to attend in person while RSVPing to digital livestreams of others. Events having a prominent virtual component is likely to prove to be an essential part of brand strategy and can’t afford to be an afterthought. Viewers and attendees need to be able to enjoy the experience equally, regardless of where they are. This also prompts the extra sustainable effort of supporting both local and smaller business – which is of course, music to our ears.

2020 has proved that we can continue to do great work while not physically inhabiting the same space. These sustainable-centric ideas for events can also be extended to a brand’s physical practice – committing to continued limited travel for meetings, holding the virtual space in equal importance. Although no two events are the same, sustainable success lies in lessons learned from the pandemic and leveraging what is appearing before post-lockdown life fully takes hold.

Photo source: http://www.fedracongressi.com/fedra/9-ways-for-a-more-sustainable-event/

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