Will sustainable choices help in cost savings?

Experts address the issues surrounding sustainability in meetings and events.

Sustainable choices pose cost-saving challenges for planners.
Sustainable choices pose cost-saving challenges for planners. Photo Credit: gettyimages/Pogonici

Can you be sustainable with regards to business events while also saving money? This was the question posed at the recent Think 2022 event, held in Athens and online and organised by FCM Travel and GBTA.

As part of a panel debate, Andrew Cassidy, global travel manager at entertainment business AMC Networks said he would struggle to balance costs with sustainability with regards to meetings and events. “How am I going to convince our CFO that I want to spend more money because for example, I want to contribute to sustainable aviation fuel or I think that our hotel programme should be predominantly with sustainability-certified properties,” he says. “I worry that it's a big ask, particularly as we come out with a pandemic.”

He added that while his organisation Is controlling the costs of internal meetings, to the point where these are now more cost-effective, as conference and events return, travel is becoming more expensive. “I’m going to struggle to get sustainability and wellness costs over the line,” he says.

Glen Thorsen, head of partnerships at Thrust Carbon, which builds technology to help companies operate more sustainably, said that business had continued in the last 18 months with little or no travel, “Now it’s a case of taking those learnings and managing that return,’” he says.

“Data is huge here – historically data for sustainability has been very generic, which makes it very difficult for it to be a performance element. We need to make sure all the data we have can power sustainability to become a better decision metric. Travellers want to make better decisions and we have to give them the data.”

Thorsen added that this should happen at the point of search and planning, and it needs to be consistent. “You cannot have carbon budgets for example that your travellers need to deliver if it does not align with your reporting. We want to be able to travel; in some cases we can travel less or we can group things together, by bringing multiple purposes for trips together and extending those.”

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