Thursday, 21 July 2011

Guest Blog: Virtual conferencing and a greener events industry by Alex Walker

Virtual conferencing and a greener events industry

I’ll be totally honest, I care about the environment. Not in a happy-clappy, tambourine playing, hug a tree and wash yourself in a river kind of way. More like the rest of you, I've become accustomed to separating my cans from my bottles and paper, which led me to think more about my buying behaviours and what I can do to prevent excess waste and minimise landfill.
This I feel is a common sentiment. We all care about the planet, we don’t want to see natural resources wasted and we try our best to do our bit to help.
The environment and marketing
Alex Walker, Sage Accoutants team
Alex Walker, Sage Accoutants' team
I work in Marketing, which as an industry doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to sustainability. Most of us regularly receive Direct Mailers which go straight into our rubbish bins, and if you’ve ever been involved in a rebranding exercise it’s often shocking quite how much redundant collateral is thrown out.
How many leaflets just get binned after events?
By far and away, the worst offender though has always been the Events industry. And it got me thinking is there another way? Think about any stand you’ve even been on, or visited for that matter. Over the course of a couple of days they will hand out thousands of flyers, leaflets and other items of promotional material. If you take that number, then multiply it by the number of stands at the venue, and then multiply it by the number of events the venue hosts you begin to get an understanding of the scale of the waste problem.
Most of us if we put our hands up will admit that we only ever read 5% (or less) of the materials we take away from an event again, in fact most of us probably just keep a hold of salient business cards and the rest will end up in a bin eventually.
Then there is the issue of transportation, for all of the material, displays, badges, giveaways and other paraphernalia have to get to the venue and generally the only way to do this is by car or van. All of the delegates have to make their way to the event as well, while many will try to make use of public transport, the reality is that the majority still drive. All of this traffic adds up to a substantial carbon footprint for even a small event.
The Events industry does recognise there is a problem and is taking measures to improve standards and share best practice. In fact they are currently developing a British Standard for environmental practice in events. (BS8901)
Virtual conferencing
I was very excited to chance upon a new approach to Events which I believe will help to alleviate these problems. It’s called ‘virtual conferencing’ and I was introduced to it through the ACCA Global Virtual Conference, where Sage will be hosting a stand. The premise behind virtual conferencing is that it allows your delegates and exhibitors to interact in the same way they would at a physical event, but all through a computer at their desk.
Exhibitors have a fully branded virtual stand which allows them to network with delegates, host web-chats on areas of specialism and run surveys and giveaways.  Delegates can use the stands to access and download content to their computer, without it ever needing to see a printer.
For me this approach is a ‘no-brainer’, not only does it take delegates away from their work for less time, but they still come away with all the relevant information they need to inform their decisions without the inherent carbon footprint. I’m looking forward to seeing this method of conferencing in practice. We’ll be hosting our first virtual stand at the ACCA Global Virtual Conference on the 27th of July, why don’t you log in and take a look?

Guest Blog from Alex Walker, Sage Accountants’ Team

No comments:

Post a Comment