New Article: Can an event tech platform improve your onsite sustainability credentials?

Mar 4, 2024

A big thank you to Event Technology Live for featuring FFAIR's CMO Katie Whatley in their recent newsletter. We've been thrilled to see and hear so many exhibition organisers speaking about how FFAIR has helped them reduce their environmental impact onsite.

Full article below originally created for Event Technology Live.

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All too often, discussions around the implementation of event technology before the event primarily revolve around how event organizers can maximize their event outcomes. More attendees, more value from the content, and more engagement with exhibitors and sponsors are the common goals.

But what if event technology used before the event could actually assist event organizers in achieving less? Less wastage, a reduced carbon footprint, and, in general, contribute to improving sustainability at your event?

Katie Whatley, CMO at FFAIR shares her thoughts: 

“One of my initial tasks since joining the FFAIR team this month was to speak to as many customers as possible about their experience with our platform. When I ask event organisers, ‘In what ways has FFAIR positively contributed to your event?’ the expected responses of ‘saved time and improved the bottom line’ were welcomed. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to hear from Nick Westerman, Head of Strategic Partner Events at NHS Confederation, about how FFAIR has significantly improved their onsite sustainability credentials.

Nick explains: “FFAIR has exceeded our expectations on many levels, creating benefits we had not contemplated, for example, reducing our carbon footprint. Approximately 80% of our exhibitors ordered from our preferred suppliers via the FFAIR platform; a byproduct of this success meant that there was a 50% reduction of vehicles on-site during build and breakdown, a big plus for the environment.”

The benefits of FFAIR transcending the platform and helping exhibition organisers improve their sustainability credentials by managing suppliers onsite prompted me to contemplate other forms of event tech that yield similar sustainability-friendly outcomes. 

Carbon measurement platforms like TRACE by Isla help event managers measure and minimize carbon at events. Empowered by this information, event teams can make informed decisions from the outset, leading to continuous improvement from one event to the next. 

Wanting to find out more, I delved into sessions from Event Sustainability Live 2023 on YouTube and found “Sustainable Innovations: How Tech Is Revolutionising Events,” a panel discussion featuring industry champions for sustainable events: Lisa Sweeting, Green Sense Events; Chris Thompson, You.Smart.Thing; Saasha Celestial-One, Olio; Lisa Schulteis, ElectraLime Marketing; and Malcolm Leach from Isla.

Data emerged as the core of the conversation. “We live in an API-driven economy,” explained Chris Thompson from You.Smart.Thing. The ability to share knowledge and data across platforms effortlessly, aiding event organisers in making informed decisions, is where technology adds value.

Lisa Schulteis, Founder at ElectraLime Marketing, detailed various ways event technology was fostering sustainability. From reducing print and utilising digital signage to collaborating with suppliers for hybrid events, she emphasized, “everything we’re doing at a show now, we’re looking to technology to see if we can replace or add on to what we’re already doing.”

Lisa Sweeting, Green Sense Events, questioned why event organisers weren’t leveraging technology better to gather information about attendees’ plans and preferences ahead of the event. “It feels like there’s a real opportunity to get data from attendees at the beginning to reduce overproduction or overinvestment, ultimately cutting costs for event organisers.”

Schulteis provided a compelling example where questions asked at event registration yielded only a 20% response rate. For the next iteration, they placed these questions on the event platform rather than at registration, making them mandatory for attendees and incentivising and gamifying the process. This increased the volume of data the event organisers had access to and so were able to make decisions with. 

This echoed Nick Westerman’s earlier sentiment, where data acquired through pre-event platforms empowered them as event organisers to make better decisions, improving sustainability at the event.

For me, this was key.

While event-on-event data can help reduce carbon emissions each year, event technology empowers organisers to create more sustainable events for the current iteration, accelerating the ability to make change in weeks and months rather than years. If every event organiser reframed the pre-event data collection from exhibitors, sponsors and attendees in this way, could we make 2024 the most sustainable year for events yet? 

It’s an exciting prospect, and one I’m eager to dive into with events teams at FFAIR’s booth at Event Tech Live US this year.

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Find out how FFAIR can improve the onsite experience for exhibition organisers.