Event professionals are reporting that cost is a primary barrier to adopting increased sustainability measures.
This is according to a report, entitled Social Responsibility and Sustainability, released this month by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), which polled opinions from events, incentive and reward professionals on the trends and implications around sustainable business practices in the MICE industry.
The report says that while costs appear to be hampering the take-up of sustainability, it is important to identify and implement those sustainable practices that can reduce event and incentive travel costs.
One interviewee for the report, whose firm is focused on designing sustainable events and incentive group travel experiences, said that reducing power use and food waste more than offsets the costs of doing right, but ‘you must show the business value upfront to convince decision-makers to act’.
The majority of survey respondents (80%) also reported at least some pressure from clients to provide more sustainable options in meetings, events, incentive travel venues, and transport.
Several of those interviewed for the report, however, expressed doubts about progress to date, including one who said: “There is today a lot more emphasis on limiting the use of plastics in hotels, for example, but I don’t see clients making choices over their venues based on how sustainable they are. Until that becomes common practice, I don’t see the fundamental changes happening that need to be made.”
Another said he “hasn’t yet seen reward earners protest a destination, means of travel, or otherwise” for sustainability reasons.
Stephanie Harris, IRF president said: “Social responsibility requirements and sustainability continue to be part of our industry’s conversations. Our interviews for this study revealed that sustainable practices are becoming more important to clients and more prevalent in RFPs. However, many clients reconsider if there is a resulting increase in cost or compromises in venues and reward choice.”
Other findings found that destinations closer to home, especially those that do not require air travel, are gaining in popularity, due in part to environmental and sustainability concerns, as well as costs, while destination management companies can also be engaged to design meaningful, sustainable experiences in communities where corporate events are held.
Sustainable rewards and benefits are becoming more prevalent too. Examples of these include charitable contributions on behalf of the employee, the opportunity for employees to reward their co-workers, and the donation of employee work time to a charitable cause.