You want your meeting to have an impact. But maybe it shouldn’t—at least, not when it comes to environmental, social, and cultural impact.
Meeting planners are making strides in these areas: According to the American Express 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, 80% of organizations consider sustainability when planning events, and 87% actively incorporate equity into them.
But when approached separately, these forms of impact stay siloed. Instead, consider incorporating your social and environmental goals under one umbrella: low-impact meetings.
“The benefit of low-impact meetings extends far beyond reducing environmental waste,” said Bruce Dalton, president and CEO of Visit Aurora, which supports business tourism in Aurora, Colorado. That includes making sure that money spent on events contributes to the community, does not environmentally harm the destination, and honors the people who made the location a desirable destination in the first place.
Approaching meetings with a holistic intent of minimizing impact doesn’t need to differ from your usual mindset, though: It’s still about prioritizing what attendees need.
“Time is our most precious resource,” said Allyson Fredeen, general manager of Stanley Marketplace, a community of more than 50 independently owned Colorado businesses that also features event space. “And if people know that there’s a low-impact element and that there’s been real consideration given to that, maybe they’re more inclined to show up, and that can make attendees more engaged because it’s something they value.”
To start making low-impact meetings your standard-bearer, gather your current sustainability and DEI practices—and then consider these steps, all of which begin at the source: your destination.
Consider Your Destination’s Infrastructure
Meeting your impact goals will be easier if your destination has already done some of the work for you. “Aurora is only minutes from Denver International Airport, the third-busiest airport in the country,” Dalton said. “Aurora’s light rail, buses, and ride-share options also make getting around the city a breeze, with options for even the most conscientious traveler.”
A location that’s accessible to attendees without a long ride to and from the airport, a developed public transit system, a water system created with conservation in mind: All of these add up to a built-in boost to your environmental goals.