By: Liz Ferenciak, Digital Marketing Strategist, Creative Group

Although I don’t normally travel much for business in my Marketing role, I recently had the opportunity to participate on-site at a client event to better understand how we are helping our clients design to the trends we often talk about in our industry. And sustainability is a big one. If you’ve ever Googled sustainable event tips, you know eco-friendly tips are everywhere. Putting them into practice is another thing.  Being sustainable means more than just going green (R-E-C-Y-C-L-E…are you singing yet?), especially when there’s a perception that it will impact the event budget. But that can be a misconception because many things can be achieved without increasing spend. I’m here to share some ways we helped create a highly sustainable event. Let’s dive in!

Our client – in the business of transportation, logistics, and manufacturing of commercial trucks, buses, and engines, is at the forefront of industries stepping up to sustainability challenges, focused on reducing their environmental footprint. With a corporate initiative of “accelerating the impact of sustainable mobility”, we knew it was critical to create the “greenest” event possible. They work with parts suppliers to make green mobility happen. The purpose of the 2-day event was to thank suppliers who make parts for transportation equipment and further strengthen those relationships. They also wanted to bring partners with leadership to connect, collaborate, celebrate recent wins, and receive corporate updates on initiatives. Sustainability is a key initiative for them, and staying on budget is also important. We knew they required the highest level of sustainability possible. So of course, we had to exceed their eco-conscious expectations. They also wanted to strengthen relationships and celebrate success from the past year. We organized interactive breakout sessions for suppliers to meet with leadership one-on-one. During their general session, one of their leaders joked that their panelists mentioned the word “sustainability” about 80+ times!

We worked together with our client and the venues to make sure that every aspect of the event was environmentally conscious. Here’s how:

  • Event apps are pretty much the standard nowadays. If you’re like me, you tend to have your entire life on your phone with an app for just about everything. We communicated updates, the agenda, and other info through the Creative Group EventAPP™. Each person who registered was encouraged to scan a QR code to download the app. Each person received an alert as sessions were about to begin. Many attendees raved about the mobile app and said it was super helpful and easy to use.
  • Our signage – with interchangeable directional arrows – was reused from the client’s earlier event to avoid more waste.
  • We took advantage of the hotel’s digital signage for the daily agenda.
  • Water stations were provided for on-the-go drinks to avoid any single-use plastic.
  • Recycling bins were placed in the most visible areas, acting as behavioral nudges. Trash cans were hiding around the corners.
  • We recycled the name badges and lanyards, which people appreciated. (What else are you supposed to do with those things?)
  • We selected the Marriott hotel brand because of its commitment to sustainability and social impact. You can see how much they care about the environment in every part of the hotel, from the guest rooms to the common area bathrooms.
  • During the welcome reception, a “Sustainability Nook” featured a chef who discussed locally sourced ingredients and shared sustainable cooking recipes.
  • The final evening’s celebratory dinner was held at a restaurant that cares just as much about sustainability as we do – Eataly, Chicago. Not only was it a short walk away (reducing emissions), but their entire menu is catered to be environmentally conscious. This combination of restaurant and store is a fusion of eating and Italy. They are rooted in combining high-quality Italian food with sustainability and biodiversity. Eataly was an obvious choice for this client based on their shared values.

Overall, I’m so happy I attended this event to get a behind-the-scenes look at how we bring programs to life. I have heard clients say that we’re a true extension of their team, and now I can say I’ve been a part of it!  We care as much about our clients’ goals as they do – and work together to make it happen. I was amazed at how many changes occurred during the event and how prepared our team was to handle them (swapping signage, handling attendee requests, etc.). Most importantly, sustainability is not just a buzzword. We know that sustainable events are possible – and can be executed within budget, with the right team and resources to make an impact.

Are you ready to design a sustainable event?