The more we become involved in green events, the more it becomes apparent that not all the role-players involved in the event take the process as seriously as others.
Green events are unfortunately seen as the domain of the event organiser, and other participants such as the venue, the accommodation provider and even the transport service provider tend to 'step-back' thinking that they have no specific role. How wrong they are! A green event is a collaborative effort by everyone involved - from the client through to the waste management service provider, and unless everyone shares a common objective - and understands the role that they have in the overall success of an event, the less likely it is to achieve certification.
At an event that is currently under review in Durban, South Africa, the organisers and the client have one vision - a green event, but Africa's largest hospitality group - the provider of accommodation for the 2000 delegates, doesn't seem to get it! Nothing has been done to raise awareness of the need to conserve water and energy at the hotels, nor to reduce waste, and this represents a missed opportunity by this group to communicate a more responsible commitment by management. They have done nothing to support the objectives of the organisers and client, and often, this is where the certification train leaves the track. Hoteliers still believe greening is a fad, whereas research in the US and UK now unequivocally shows the opposite.
Transport is another challenge, with service providers not understanding the need to manage the service closely to avoid waste and unnecessary trips. Take for example this event, where the transport schedule has been set, but without understanding the dynamic of the delegates. With an opening time of 09h00, shuttle services are provided from the hotels to the venue from 07h00 - while most delegates are either still having breakfast - or sleeping-off the night before. Yet, a 70-seater coach is provided and for the next three trips, transporting an average of three passengers on each trip to the venue! Had management taken an interest, they would have smaller vehicles on stand-by to use for these smaller numbers until the larger group were ready. Managing the type and size of shuttles is as integral to the success of a green event as ensuring the right catering and suppliers need to understand their role in ensuring that the client achieves their objectives.
Whether your conference is an in-house occasion or one that involves a vast array of external services and suppliers, it is important to ensure that everyone understands the objective of making the event green, and that each respective partner manages their own activities with that common understanding. Otherwise, it is just another event!