elephant bursting through wall into room
02 February 2024

Addressing the Elephant in The Room of Sustainable Events

Thankfully, there has been a growing emphasis on sustainability in the event industry in recent years. Venues and organizers are making significant efforts to implement eco-friendly practices and reduce their environmental impact. However, there is an urgent need to address the sustainable event gap, highlighting the lack of similar initiatives from exhibitors. Exhibitors contribute substantial waste through booth construction, paper catalogues, and promotional items, undermining the overall sustainability of events. If we are to truly tackle climate change, we must compel exhibitors to join in waste reduction. In this urgent appeal, we will explore the reasons behind the reluctance of venues and organizers to address this issue, the importance of exhibitor sustainability, and strategies to compel exhibitors to adopt sustainable practices.

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However, it is crucial not to let this fear overshadow the urgent need to act and create sustainable events from end to end. By addressing this issue, venues and organizers can set themselves apart as leaders in sustainable events and attract like-minded exhibitors and attendees.

The Importance of Exhibitor Sustainability


Exhibitor sustainability is essential for achieving true sustainability in events. While venues and organizers are making strides in implementing eco-friendly practices, exhibitor waste significantly undermines their efforts. Exhibitors embracing sustainable practices reduce their environmental footprint and create a more cohesive sustainability narrative for the event. By prioritizing exhibitor sustainability, venues and organizers can enhance their reputation as leaders in sustainable events and attract exhibitors and attendees who share their values.

Strategies to Compel Exhibitor to Embrace Sustainable Events


Immediate cooperation from event planners, organizers, and sustainability managers is required to bridge the sustainable event gap. Here are urgent strategies that can be implemented:

The Reluctance of Venues and Organizers


One of the main reasons for the reluctance of venues and organizers to address the sustainable event gap is the fear of potential loss of business. Exhibitors may resist sustainable initiatives due to perceived higher costs or concerns about the impact on their brand image.

Sustainable events depend on a sustainable venue. A beautiful sunlit conference room

2. Incentives

Offering incentives can be a powerful motivator for exhibitors to adopt sustainable practices. Reduced booth fees or additional exposure can be provided to exhibitors demonstrating sustainable practices. Establishing awards or recognition programs for exhibitors with outstanding sustainability efforts can incentivize participation. Collaborating with sustainable vendors and providing exclusive deals or discounts can encourage exhibitors to make sustainable choices.

3. Guidelines and Standards

Developing sustainability guidelines or standards for exhibitors to follow is essential. These guidelines can include recommendations for booth construction materials, waste management practices, and energy-efficient technologies. Including sustainability requirements in exhibitor contracts or agreements ensures sustainability becomes a contractual obligation. Regular audits can be conducted to ensure compliance with sustainability practices.

4. Collaboration

Facilitating networking opportunities between exhibitors and sustainable suppliers is crucial for promoting exhibitor sustainability. Encouraging collaboration among exhibitors to share resources and minimize waste collectively can further drive sustainable practices. Creating a platform or forum for exhibitors to exchange ideas and best practices for sustainability can foster a community of exhibitors committed to sustainability.

1. Education and Awareness

Providing educational resources and workshops for exhibitors on the importance of sustainability is one of the most effective strategies. Sharing success stories from exhibitors who have embraced sustainable practices can inspire others to follow suit. Additionally, highlighting the environmental impact of traditional promotional items and encouraging alternatives can drive exhibitors towards more sustainable choices.

We can learn to create more sustainable events online

6. Adopt Technology

Leveraging event apps such as SimpleLeads™ that reduce printed materials and segment leads can significantly reduce waste. By adopting digital tools for lead generation, exhibitors can minimize their environmental impact while improving efficiency.

7. Hold Workshops on Marketing Strategy

Holding workshops on marketing strategy can help exhibitors target their audience more effectively, resulting in less waste both physically and for their budget. Exhibitors can reduce unnecessary promotional materials by providing guidance on creating targeted marketing campaigns while still reaching their desired audience.

8. Showcase Sustainable Solutions

Designating a specific area within the event for exhibitors specializing in sustainable products or services is an effective way to showcase their solutions. Providing opportunities for these exhibitors to present or demonstrate their offerings can create awareness among attendees and encourage other exhibitors to follow suit. Offering visibility and promotion for sustainable exhibitors through event marketing channels can further incentivize exhibitors to prioritize sustainability.

The sustainable event gap can no longer be ignored. Urgent action is required from venues, organizers, event planners, and exhibitors to prioritize exhibitor sustainability. Despite initial concerns about losing business, it is crucial to emphasize the long-term benefits of taking action.

Check out our Sustainable Exhibiting Guide

5. Make the Business Case for Sustainability

Exhibitors need to understand the business benefits of embracing sustainability. By highlighting how sustainable exhibiting can enhance brand reputation, attract eco-conscious customers, and reduce costs in the long run, we can help exhibitors connect sustainability and their bottom line.

The simple leads paperless sustainable events app for exhibitors
Hand reaching out of a laptop screen inviting you to join a hybrid event

How to Get Exhibitor's to Embrace Sustainable Events

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