Grow green: Building better business events virtually



Several of the webinar clients we work with focus significantly on sustainability in their events: how their products reduce clients' costs and their carbon footprints.

It is a message that resonates with companies that also find the virtual venue itself is a step in that direction. From air travel to waste management, a virtual event is a step toward a smaller carbon footprint and more sustainable future.

Consider just a few cost factors in traditional meetings and events.

  • Travel. Airplanes are responsible for a significant amount of air pollution. This week the European Union announced it expected to levy charges of 505 million Euros ($670 million) against over polluting airlines in 2012. Airline travel is a significant contributor to greenhouse emissions as well as being costly and time consuming. Travel to an event can eat up two full business days. Even with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, there is a lot of lost productivity to go along with the ozone depletion.


  • Paper waste. Most of us who have attended out of town business meetings or conferences know what it is like to lug home a couple of binders of presentations, bios and background white papers. Most of which is promptly labeled and filed away. Add in the time spent amassing these binders, documents, labels, name tags, and more and you have got a huge amount of paper, energy and manpower waste. Virtual events allow you to provide digital versions of files. Social media capabilities can bring in real time collaboration, commenting and updating of documents. That brings two significant advantages: more exposure to material and greater engagement with material. Virtual events can not only reduce paper waste, but increase that clue and impact of documents that might otherwise have been consigned to a benign neglect in a file cabinet.


  • Sustainability is about more than your company's impact on the economy; it's about how long you can sustain certain policies and practices. If travel for business is a big nut on your company's balance sheet continue cracking it by mixing some virtual events or online business meetings. Costs of travel add up and go far beyond air fare and hotels when you factor in meals, lost productivity, and time off task.

  • Bragging rights. But adding virtual events, you have a good story to tell about your sustainability efforts. Success tends to breed success and even people who are wary of change can get behind a success story.


    Cisco hosted an annual sales meeting in 2009 for 19,000 sales people, and the company estimates that choosing to host this gathering as a virtual event prevented 84,400 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere and saved 209,000 pounds of waste that would have been created by an in-person event. Choosing a virtual event in this case was a sustainable choice equivalent to planting 3.5 million trees, according to the Virtual Event Hub.

    Your company may hsve smaller events to manage, but the results can be just as significant. Making an effort to develop a more sustainable program for events and meetings can be a marketing plus for your companies. Each year more and more businesses look to partner with green companies. For some of the countries largest businesses as well as the public sector, there are often requirements to choose environmentally responsible companies to work with.

    Virtual events can help your business merge cost containment, environmental sustainability, and gain improved results as well. Grow green in 2012.