Lisa Hatswell, managing director of Unique Venues of London, on how going digital can be eco-friendly.

As sustainability increasingly becomes a prime concern for the events industry, there is a question around the role technology can play in helping to protect our most precious venue of all: the environment.

Sustainability can be approached from numerous angles when planning an event, ranging from changes as basic as sending guests emails rather than paper invitations, to larger considerations, such as using projectors and tablets during meetings and conferences rather than flipcharts and notepads.

With the assistance of knowledgeable, accredited AV companies, organisers and venues alike can make a difference by turning to technology when possible. Here are four ways going digital can make for a more environmentally-friendly gathering:

Making the list

E-invites, instead of paper letters, can drastically reduce the amount of resources used, however technology can extend even further when preparing for an event. Having guests register and RSVP for events online, rather than by post or in person on the day of the gathering, can save both the organiser and the attendees time and money – while helping save the planet as well.

Online registration is also much simpler for keeping track of attendees at shows and conferences, as well as for sending reminders, thank you notes and satisfaction surveys.

Sharing is caring

In events such as large-scale conferences, the use of the Internet and social media is a great way to both reduce the use of paper and plastic pens—which are often discarded by the end of the event—and have delegates engage with one another during and post event.

Rather than write down feedback, suggest a well-thought out hashtag which guests can use on online platforms. By sharing ideas live via social media platforms such as Twitter, attendees can feel more engaged during the conference, while also having the opportunity to keep in touch with other guests long after the event has finished.

Eliminating emissions

While emissions produced within other prominent sectors, such as energy, residential and manufacturing and construction, have decreased, the transportation sector’s emissions continue to grow.[1]

Encouraging guests to car share is thus another way to help the environment, and technology can play a part in this with many apps available that allow for shared transport. Electric and hybrid vehicles which emit less CO2 than cars solely fuelled by petrol are also options, whether travelling solo or with others.

The benefits of shared travel extend beyond sustainability: group transportation also has the potential of helping guests to get to know one another before and after an event, ensuring a more personal experience.

Distance is no barrier

While event planners always hope for a full guestlist, there are times when geography is an obstacle. If certain VIPs are unable to make an event such as a business meeting, or when it’s simply inconvenient for them to travel, video conferencing is a good solution.

This method eliminates the need for guests to travel long distances, whether by car or plane. Flights worldwide produced 915 million tonnes of CO2 last year alone[2], so if a venue can provide remote access to an event (and many today can, including heritage and landmark venues), then it’s worth exploring this option.

Trust technology

While the use of technology can reduce the costs associated with organising events, particularly in the long run, it’s not always cheap. However, the cost to the environment is far greater if organisers don’t adopt more sustainable techniques in their planning. Numerous unique venues across London provide the space, equipment and know-how needed to incorporate technology into almost any gathering, which means there is no need to sacrifice guest satisfaction for environmental protection. Sustainability is the way forward, and going digital can lend a helping hand.