Companies of all sizes are strategically focusing on the impact of climate change and the need for environmental sustainability. Businesses have a role—some argue a responsibility—to mitigate the environmental impact of their operations to protect our world for future generations. And so, companies are making greener choices such as replacing disposable plastic in offices with recyclable alternatives, reducing energy consumption by employing efficient lighting, turning off computers at night, encouraging employees to carpool, and more.
Another big way to move towards building a cleaner company is by hosting eco-friendly corporate events like hybrid and virtual events. These event formats are increasingly popular as a result of the pandemic and offer ways for businesses to do their part to sustain the health of the environment.
What are Virtual and Hybrid Events?
Before we explore reasons why virtual events are eco-friendly, it is important to know what virtual and hybrid events are. Events are an important element of any business. They help brands foster relationships with customers and allow customers to understand a brand’s philosophy and purpose.
Virtual events are 100% online events. They aren’t a new concept – they existed prior to 2020 but proliferated because of pandemic lockdowns. Virtual events provided business continuity at a time when there was no alternative. As a result, the situation demonstrated that a virtual event is a viable format that should be considered as a permanent fixture in a company’s marketing strategy and not merely as an alternative. Any individual with stable internet connectivity and an invite can attend a virtual event regardless of where they are or how they join – be it a smartphone, a laptop, or a desktop. Virtual events immediately expand audience reach.
Hybrid events on the other hand are a combination of virtual and in-person events. In a hybrid event, attendees are given the choice of whether they will be attending the event in person or virtually. Think of a hybrid event as a live event with virtual components that offer attendees an option to participate and engage from anywhere in the world.
Acknowledging its growing potential in a digital-first world, businesses and companies have been experimenting with hybrid and virtual event ideas. Moreover, the environmental impact of virtual and hybrid events is comparatively lower and more cost-efficient than physical events, further prompting their popularity.
How Hybrid and Virtual Events Help the Planet
Businesses that have social and environmental sustainability goals, lean towards hybrid and virtual events as a means to achieve corporate responsibility benchmarks and foster better relationships with customers. Customers are far more environmentally aware now than they were five years ago and are more likely to support brands that prioritize sustainability. The pandemic has shed light on how companies can successfully execute eco-friendly corporate events. The following are some insights and learnings from the past 18 months that demonstrates how hybrid and virtual events are eco-friendly:-
- Reduced Travel
The fewer the travel miles, the less the air pollution. Think of the increased CO2 emissions that each attendee contributes when they have to travel back and forth to attend a short business event.
2020 saw a record decline in greenhouse gas emissions because of vastly reduced transportation. While lockdowns are unrealistic long-term, the reduced travel illustrated how behavioral changes do have a positive effect on the environment.
Contrarily, virtual events are more eco-friendly because participants can attend from anywhere via the internet and eliminate the need for travel.
- Digital Alternatives to Paper
The large quantities of paper required to run a live event is no secret. Live events and corporate meetings call for the printing and distribution of business cards, brochures, flyers, posters, and other promotional items. In the United States alone businesses use approximately four million tons of paper every year which is equivalent to more than 68,000,000 trees. More often than not, these materials end up in the trash. With a virtual event, however, all these can be shared with the attendees in digital form. This helps reduce the use of paper which is a small step for a greener tomorrow.
- No Food Waste
In-person events typically need food and catering services. These can range from simple beverages to full-course meals. According to Tracy Stuckrath, (president and chief connecting officer of Thrive Meetings & Events) in the United States, meetings and events generate about $21 billion worth of food waste. The amount of food waste—and related disposables like plastic utensils, cups, etc—is reduced when companies host hybrid or virtual events. And while hybrid events will still offer food services, the volume is reduced with a portion of attendees participating online.
- Reduced Energy
In-person events require significant amounts of energy just to operate. Consider the logistics involved with a live event such as powering the venue – the lighting, and visual arrangements, and even the shipments of booth materials – all require a significant amount of energy. While virtual events also require energy from computers, data centers, and streaming video, it has relatively low climate impact compared to physical events. Furthermore, the devices and digital technologies necessary to execute an event virtually are continually improving their energy efficiency.
In conclusion, hybrid and virtual events can help reduce the carbon footprint while also offering an inclusive and engaging way for brands to connect with their customers. Digital technologies have further increased the opportunities to be sustainable without compromising business objectives. Eco-friendliness is just one benefit of hosting a hybrid or virtual event. These event formats are here to stay and should no longer be thought of as an alternative. To learn more reasons why, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call to discuss how the Showmetry virtual events platform can fit into your marketing strategy.