Colombia-MICE is part of the Pelecanus Travel Group. We are located in Bogota, Colombia. We are specialized in corporate travel and all services around Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions.
It is not surprising that sustainability has become an important pillar for various industries these days. For the MICE industry, this has become more than obvious as sustainability is an increasingly important element in the planning and development of meetings, incentive trips, congresses and international events.
Why is sustainability so important in the MICE industry?
It’s no secret that the social and environmental impacts caused by tourism are important issues that have come to the fore these days. For this reason, the various stakeholders and participants in the meetings industry are increasingly demanding greener and more sustainable events.
Environmental disasters such as B. devastating fires, torrential rains, and floods, among others, have raised concerns about reducing the impact of human activities on the environment.
The new generations, especially Millennials and Generation Z, are the main players in this movement, for which climate change is one of the biggest concerns. People of all ages are changing their habits to develop more environmentally friendly practices.
On the other hand, companies, regardless of their sector or industry, are now much more aware of the importance of incorporating sustainability into their strategies. They strive to minimize their impact on the environment to project a corporate responsibility image in all their activities, including their business travel policy and the organization of their events and conventions.
However, an open or hidden double standard is not helpful for the whole topic. For example, if you rant about environmental problems at the World Economic Forum in Davos, but many participants arrive by private jet, this is not conducive to credibility and even less to the environment.
A secretly growing problem in the MICE industry
All stakeholders in the MICE industry have an impact on the environment, from hotels to transport companies.
Here are some thoughts to consider from a conceptual point of view:
- Transport: Emissions from the various means of transport and their use by industrial and economic actors are high and, in most cases, ignored. This includes flights to the destination, use of cars for transportation, etc.
- Accommodation: Accommodation has a major impact, as here the waste of energy (light, heat or cooling), water (large volumes in bathrooms, automatic systems and cleaning (washing bedding, kitchen utensils, cleaning), etc. is very significant.
- Waste: All phases generate waste of all kinds, mainly from single-use materials such as certain plastics. At events, a myriad of advertising materials is usually used, along with disposable tableware, etc.
- Water: In addition to accommodation, an event can waste large amounts of water at the venue, especially in the toilets.
- Lack of accessibility: It is not always thought that events should be easily accessible. A distant event location favors the use of transport to cover long distances.
- Promoting good practice: Few organizations truly promote sustainability in their industry and at their events; it is not enough to just advertise and appear positive when the practices are totally at odds with what they promote (for example WEF).
- Destination Impact: The city where the event takes place is just as important as the event itself. Events have a major impact on the local area and its residents. It is therefore important to also include these factors in the organization of an event.
Some readers may now interject that there are certifications and labels for this. We all know what fraud means and that with payment for it, many certifications can be obtained. In my opinion, this is not the right way.
The best way for companies and events in the MICE industry to become more sustainable
For companies to become more sustainable, organizers and players in the MICE industry have various tools and options at their disposal. In this way, the most important sustainability criteria can be identified that should be applied to events, incentive trips, meetings, congresses, etc.
There are books, best practice guides, reference websites, workshops, YouTube videos, conferences, tutorials, and other types of resources.
The challenge of making an event sustainable
However, the biggest challenge for any player in the MICE industry is the difficulty of gathering all the necessary information and then incorporating it.
It is also about adapting the mindset accordingly and creating a culture of sustainability.
A company that only communicates sustainability in writing, but does not actively change the corresponding culture, will not be successful in this regard.
Important sustainability strategies for the MICE industry
We know that it is not so easy to adapt the various events, meetings, congresses, and incentive trips to what is now called sustainable events. For this reason, here are some strategies.
Mobility and accessibility of events
Events and meetings attract large numbers of people, so travel to and from them can cause significant emissions.
- Encourage the use of alternative means of transport such as bicycles and the use of public transport for getting there and back.
- Organization of shuttles or shared transfers.
- Central locations that can be reached by public transport or on foot.
- Select venues near appropriate hotels.
- Inclusion of the participants in the mobility concept.
- Hybrid events with virtual, or real-time transmission.
Use of Technologies
There are endless technical aids that can help you with both the planning and the execution of your event. Their use is a good alternative for holding a sustainable event. For example:
- Any kind of information, confirmation of participation, notifications about services, etc. should be sent by email.
- Developing an application with all the information about the congress or meeting is also very convenient for the organizers and participants, enhancing the experience and reducing paper.
- Platforms for virtual events or alternatively to complement hybrid events.
- Use of QR codes for registration, opinion polls, voting or venue access.
Make sure your team shares the same values as you and your event. Engaging companies with sustainable initiatives will help make the event as optimal as possible. Even if some providers are not known, there are now a large number of them that meet such criteria and focus on activities in this area:
- The use of environmentally friendly and biodegradable materials
- Waste sorting and recycling
- sustainability in production
- Compostable and recyclable materials
Catering – food service
Most events require catering or food service. For your event to be sustainable in this regard, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to food.
- Use of organic, seasonal and/or local products, as well as fair trade products.
- Avoiding unhealthy foods (totally or largely). Sugar water like Coca-Cola tastes good, but it’s anything but healthy. You can also avoid companies and brands that do not live sustainable business practices.
- Using products from close to the venue helps reduce the impact of transportation.
- For water, avoid using plastic bottles and replace them with water dispensers or drinking points, preferably free.
Don’t forget the local providers
As we have already mentioned, depending on the venue, it is helpful to involve local partners. This not only benefits the organizers, but also the local economy of the venue. It doesn’t always have to be multinational companies.
Proper water and energy management
Water and energy are fundamental for the organization of meetings, events and congresses. The reason for this is that energy is required for almost all activities, which is why responsible energy consumption is crucial.
Here are some tips on how to best implement this in a sustainable event:
- Make the most of the available natural light or outdoor space, depending on either the type of venue or the time of day.
- Try to power the event with renewable energy sources.
- Use electricity sensibly in the activities to be carried out.
- Reduce water consumption as much as possible, for example with smart taps.
- Commitment to using environmentally friendly LED lighting. LED lighting increases energy efficiency, lasts longer, contains fewer toxic elements in its composition, and low consumption results in lower CO2 emissions.
- Avoid noise and light pollution. In addition to LED lighting, try strategically placing speakers to efficiently disperse and reduce sound.
- Identify strategic lighting points around the venue to reduce the number of light bulbs and unnecessary lighting points.
Proper waste management is essential
It is clear that events generate a large amount of waste, both organic and recyclable (e.g. paper, plastic and glass). It is necessary to properly dispose of this waste to reduce the negative impact.
Experts recommend improving the impact of events by following the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. To this end, it is recommended to take the following actions:
- The best and most obvious way to make an event sustainable is to reduce the consumption of resources and materials. This also reduces the amount of waste and saves waste.
- If possible, the materials can also be reused for other events, either by reusing them for the same purpose or finding another way to use them again.
- Identification of strategic sectors to promote waste segregation (both organic and inorganic).
- Encouraging the recycling of waste that cannot be reused. To this end, litter bins and bins should be placed at strategic points throughout the event to facilitate this goal for visitors.
- In order to avoid waste, the materials used, such as promotional material or disposable tableware, should be adapted to the number of participants to avoid excessive consumption.
- Additionally, the type of products to be used at the event should be considered, ideally avoiding single-use products such as plastic and over-packaged products. This will help to significantly reduce waste management.
- If using the above products is unavoidable, it is always possible to look for recycled and/or biodegradable versions of these products.
Environmental protection at events
The most important thing for an organizer or a player in the MICE industry is a smooth and successful event. Some events, especially those that take place outdoors or in rural areas, can have an immense impact on the environment. Therefore, to ensure a sustainable event, certain measures must be taken to limit this impact.
How do you deal responsibly with the environment? We believe this is the best way:
- Choice of location is important. Avoid a location in sensitive natural sites or less favored areas.
- Choose or change the date of the event so that it does not coincide with the breeding season of local wildlife.
- Avoid polluting the surrounding area.
- In addition, it is advisable to comply with current legislation on noise and lighting.
Further sustainability strategies for the MICE industry
While the strategies outlined in the previous point are key to the sustainability of MICE industry events, conventions, meetings, and incentive travel, some other strategies and recommendations can make a much bigger contribution.
Choosing the right venue can make all the difference
It’s simple: the right choice of venue will have an impact on the course of the event. Aspects such as location, space and other aspects that the venue can offer are fundamental.
Natural light is not only good for the participants but also reduces energy expenditure. On the other hand, the presence of screens can replace the use of paper.
An alternative for event decoration and promotion
When it comes to promotional items, gifts and promotional items for a brand, company or event, it makes sense that they are made from biodegradable or recycled materials.
When decorating spaces, several options can be considered through the use of materials such as cardboard, rice fiber, recycled plastic, recycled paper, and others.
Transmission of values
Sustainable events reflect the identity and values of the industry. In this area, with actions and effective communication, you can also reach people who are less aware of the environment and its conservation.
For this reason, your event should communicate the good environmental practices, the goals pursued and the successes achieved in their implementation. It should be an “exemplary experience” with added value.
Choice of sustainable accommodation
Hotels are major players in the MICE industry, so making wise accommodation choices also reflect a sustainable mindset. Like the venues, the selected hotels should also be sustainable in terms of certification and accessibility.
We, therefore, recommend that depending on the venue or incentive trip, there should be countless opportunities for sustainable hotels that treat their environment and the people around them responsibly.
Business promotion and tourist destination development
The country, city, or place where an event takes place is of great importance for the MICE industry, as it allows the event to develop optimally.
Thus, promoting the destination at strategic times can be of great help to get back the support they have given, by encouraging more industries to hold their events in the destination and by promoting specific places like hotels, restaurants, international and commercial centers, etc.
Where appropriate, it may be possible to find local workers or collaborators who can help improve the event. Job creation is also a good way to contribute to the economic development of the destination.
How can companies in the MICE industry be sustainable?
Sustainability in the events industry is now a concept that has been consolidated in recent years. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the different options available to event organizers to make activities more sustainable. Criteria of ecological, social and economic sustainability can thus be better met.
What is a sustainable event?
The United Nations defines a sustainable event as an event that is designed and organized to achieve two fundamental goals: minimizing negative impacts on the environment and leaving a positive outcome for the community and all audiences involved.
Benefits of Sustainable Events – MICE Industry
Sustainable events bring endless benefits! Mostly because these types of events and meetings are an incredible opportunity to show your commitment to the environment.
A sustainable event is an ideal opportunity to convey to visitors and participants the values that are so important in today’s world.
This is more than necessary, because even when people with very different profiles meet at meetings and events, there are motivations that are common on a professional and, above all, personal level.
In addition, a sustainable event is not necessarily more expensive. There are more and more suppliers, airlines, venues, destinations, caterers and suppliers offering very competitive solutions to meet the expectations of a sustainable world. The reduction in resource consumption primarily means time and cost savings.
Other key benefits of a sustainable event include:
- Significant reduction in environmental impact.
- They support the local economy and employment.
- The sensitization and education of all groups of people involved in the event, such as participants, suppliers and sponsors.
- It inspires innovation and creativity and offers environmentally friendly solutions for future events.
It is not always possible or sensible to make an event 100% sustainable. You also have to always keep an eye on the selection of the available resources. However, if sustainable measures make sense and do not differ greatly in price, you should certainly choose them.
Sustainability can already be brought about with common sense. For the average citizen, it is already clear from the outset that it is not sustainable for participants to travel by private jet. Fortunately, this double standard is only practiced by certain elites such as politicians and celebrities, the majority of the population has not yet forgotten how to think normally.
willing to accept smaller sacrifices in comfort if they mean a big leap forward in sustainability.