Make your next group event less costly and more eco-friendly

by | Feb 20, 2024 | For Organizers

For group travel, meetings and events, costs are always a factor to manage. In fact, a 2024 survey by hospitality solution provider Knowland Group found that 47% of planners identify event costs being their number one area of dissatisfaction. And there’s not much relief in sight; the same survey found that meals and audio-visual expenses are expected to rise by 50% this year.

But costs aren’t the only concern the survey identified. Approximately 45% of planners say that sustainability is a priority for them, and about 35% have implemented some sustainability practices.

This begs the question…is it possible to reduce event expenses and be a little more eco-friendly in the process?

We think so. And with a little creative thinking and some simple tweaks, any group event planner can reduce impact to both the budget and the environment.

We’ve pulled together four ideas on how to do just that. While this list isn’t meant to fit every program, it is meant to be a starting point for thinking outside the box.

Find hotels that align with your needs

This all starts with choosing a hotel that makes both economic sense and offers eco-friendly options at the same time. If sustainability is a greater concern for your group, consider the venue’s policies and the on-property steps they take. For example, Marriott and Starwood venues are on track for 100% sustainability certification by 2025, with 650 hotels pursuing LEED certifications.

Some groups may find airport hotels the most convenient and economical option, especially if the group doesn’t have a high need for entertainment or restaurant options. For small corporate meetings or training events, attendees can fly in and out easily and either walk or use the airport shuttle to save on local transportation costs. Airport hotel rates can be very reasonable, even when room rates in the rest of the city are high.

Minimize Food Waste

Before planning any breaks or meals, think about your group. Do you need a large, formal dinner? For a wedding or reunion, you may, but for a sales team meeting, individuals may prefer to go out on their own. If you’re planning a larger event, look at previous years’ attendance for guidance. If formal dinners were poorly attended, give people the flexibility to go out for meals on their own.

You could find that attendees may prefer to explore the local cuisine. Work with the hotel to curate a list of nearby recommendations and give attendees a “free” night to discover what the city has to offer. This can bring your costs down and encourage the local economy at the same time.

If you’re planning to host meals within the hotel, there are several benefits to reducing the quantity of food provided without impacting the quality of the attendee experience. For example, for working meetings, consider cutting the number of food options offered. By cutting excessive food options, you can reduce costs and food waste.

You can also opt for more vegetarian options that are often less expensive (and usually have a lower environmental impact) than meat dishes. More veggie dishes may be a preferred way to go anyway, one case study of the 2023 IMEX Frankfurt event found a 20% uptick in the selection of a vegetarian option. Locally sourced food can often be less expensive with the added benefit of contributing to the local economy.

When it is time to sit down for a formal meal, pre-portioned plated servings can be less expensive than an all-you-can-eat buffet style. While there are labor costs to consider, overall, plated options tend to reduce waste and environmental impact. The IMEX Frankfurt 2023 Sustainable Event Report found that, by serving nearly 3,500 meals with reusable dishes and flatware, the event saved the equivalent of 51 barrels of oil in emissions reduction.

Use QR codes and go paperless

There’s been a resurgence of QR code usage as they make it easier to replace paper printouts for digital assets. There are several free QR code generators available, all of which are pretty easy to use. Attendees also have it easy since most basic photo apps on mobile devices have QR code compatibility.

For tradeshows, include a QR code on the back of each attendee’s badge that, when scanned, shows a map of the tradeshow floor and event agenda.

And for event planners, QR codes can enable easy access to an attendee experience survey.

Make smarter swag choices

Event attendees all approach swag a little differently. Some look forward to collecting it, some ignore it entirely, and some may collect everything and then leave things behind when their suitcases get too full. For swag to make economic and environmental sense, be intentional about the giveaway.

For example, a reusable water bottle from Fill it Forward can be refilled at any water station, during and after your event. In addition to your company logo, these bottles have a QR code that when scanned, it unlocks a donation to support clean water projects—ensuring that the benefits to the environment will continue long after your event has ended.

Ready to book your next cost-effective, eco-friendly event? Find and book the perfect hotel on GroupSync!