Going Green Virtual Events

Collaboration and communications providers, at least as long as I have been involved with them, have always been extremely proud of the environmental impact of our services.  Virtual Events of all types (from webinars and toll free conference calls in the early 2000s to our newest passions, webcasts and virtual environments) are some of the easiest ways for companies to reduce the strain on the environment caused by large scale travel.  This blog actually lists virtual events FIRST as the best way to reduce the impact of business travel.  I also encourage you to take a look and try to incorporate the rest of the strategies they list when you are planning to host an event where you need to bring in a lot of people.  

There are so many times where some form of virtual event will be a great solution and alternative to face-to-face meetings.  The instances I really want to focus on are the large events, where it is just not responsible to fly hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people into a single location for meetings.  Webcasts and virtual environments are easily the most advanced alternatives to these types of meetings.  I’d like to look at the benefits of both separately as virtual events to replace travel.

Webcasts

The first thing that sticks out to me when thinking about webcasts is scalability.  From 50 to 500 people (and honestly, several thousand if you need it) this platform let’s you simulate a live event with video, content, and robust interactive features.  We recently helped a CEO at a large international manufacturing company avoid traveling to multiple international locations to deliver his global state of the business.  We set up multiple webcasts that allowed the CEO to avoid what would have been 30-40 hours of travel and conduct interactive sessions with his US locations, European locations, and Southeast Asian locations.  This CEO did have a soft spot for his team, though.  He made sure to have each at 9AM local time so as not to throw his international team’s day on its head.  Very considerate and something we should potentially add to this blog detailing tips for your next webcast.  

I do understand that this is just one person traveling, but if you think of all-hands, training, sales, marketing, and HR meetings that need to be heard by a global audience, there is nothing easier and more collaborative alternative to travel than webcasting.  We have since added a town hall-type meeting each quarter for this client along with some human resource calls to explain new benefits to the global employees.

Virtual Environments

The king of all virtual events, a full scale virtual environment, probably can have the largest impact on going green.  With capacity for 30,000 attendees, simultaneously, you can easily host a two day onsite event and replace the need for travel completely should you choose.  We outlined several uses, such as tradeshows and job fairs, in the virtual environment section of our blog.  We covered lots of reasons for considering this type of platform, such as engagement and ease of navigation for your attendees (essentially, removing stress from the equation).  One thing we have not covered is the environmental impacts of events like this.  We don’t just look at what it takes to get from point A to point B.  When adding in all the necessary accommodations for the types of events we host virtually you really begin to see what sort of impact these events have on the locations where they are hosted.  

I tend to always think about Las Vegas when I think of events like this.  So, let’s run through some logistics really quick here (and yes, I am being a little dramatic because this subject is pretty near and dear to me).

Flights

I doubt many of your attendees already live in Vegas.  So let’s say you expect 10,000 attendees for this event.  That means, by going virtual, you are removing 20,000 flights – home and back.  When you consider travel accounts for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions…that can be a pretty big impact over time if we were able to move just ¼ of events to a virtual environment.  The impact would be about 20 MILLION total trips taken by participants.  Crazy stuff!

Food and beverage

Think about the biggest party you have ever thrown.  College party, wedding, tailgate, birthday.  Now, think about the amount of trash that party produced.  Now multiply that by 1000.  That should really tell you how much waste occurs at a large conference.  In fact, the latest stat I read was that the tradeshow business ALONE generates 600,000 tons of trash per year.    

Collateral

This is the biggest one for me.  I have been to events where marketing collateral is tossed around like crazy.  I know it’s getting better, with in-event apps that allow the savvy attendee or the environmentally conscious presenter to provide digital collateral.  Virtual Environments take that one step further, ensuring all collateral is available digitally.  Those 50 trash cans full of Company X’s slick new marketing guides will not be there to worry anyone this time around!

The team at Lighthouse Conferencing is realistic.  We know we are not going to change the world tomorrow.  We know it will take years to convince people to start hosting their most important events online.  We also know that people, now more than ever, understand the impact they are having on the planet.  We have already seen it with several market leaders making a point to reduce travel and their carbon footprint by hosting more virtual events.  We are excited to both partner with these thought leaders and discuss these types of benefits with those who are learning more each day about the impact that business travel can have on the environment.  In fact, if you have had a great experience at a virtual event that you would have otherwise had to travel to go ahead and leave us a comment below.  We look forward to hearing from you!

To learn more about how Virtual Events can help your company make an impact on the environment 

About Morgan Will

Morgan Will is the Director of Operations at Lighthouse Conferencing. He is passionate about improving the inner workings of companies and making sure that life is a breeze for Lighthouse clients. He is a huge University of Colorado fan (which has aged him terribly over the last few years) and once sat next to John Elway at Elway's Steakhouse! He loves the snow and mountains, trying every new restaurant he can find, and ridiculous movie quotes.

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Morgan Will is the Director of Operations at Lighthouse Conferencing. He is passionate about improving the inner workings of companies and making sure that life is a breeze for Lighthouse clients. He is a huge University of Colorado fan (which has aged him terribly over the last few years) and once sat next to John Elway at Elway's Steakhouse! He loves the snow and mountains, trying every new restaurant he can find, and ridiculous movie quotes.

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