What can be done to ensure sustainable development and competitiveness of the MICE industry?
Whilst it is anticipated that the MICE industry within APAC will continue to grow fastest, COVID has seen many destinations going backwards in performance and it will take many years until international visitation returns to pre COVID levels.
Responsible travel will be a key consideration along with safety and wellbeing of companies’ employees, not wanting to expose them to any unnecessary risk (to COVID, political unrest or any other situation that would deem an organization to be negligent). This, coupled with the high focus on sustainability, presents a risk to destinations and the business events industry pace of recovery and future growth.
The rapid increase of technology for virtual meetings may mean that a hybrid of in person and virtual attendance will exist for some time.
The ability for destinations to demonstrate their commitment to implementing sustainable practices in their business and every-day operations will be vital, and then how these are communicated and shared with the broader industry. Bench-marking of destinations continues through organizations such as GDS (Global Destination Sustainability Index) which provides bench-marking, improves, and recognizes the sustainability strategy, performance, and regeneration of destinations. Further information can be found here.
Destinations need to find common identity and similar goals to their clients and find successful ways to measure and communicate these. There is an ever-increasing demand from clients to focus on sourcing goods and services locally which in turn minimizes carbon footprint (for example, a 100-mile menu with all / majority food and beverage sourced within 100 miles, even if this increases the cost). Such an initiative supports local famers and/or producers.
Minimizing wastage, catering for the right volumes, and controlling portion sizes, and how any wastage is supplied to communities, is a growing trend, and expectation.
Employment and how using local suppliers support local employment and gives back to the community is another key area of focus and statistics that destinations need to be transparent with.
ISO 20121 has developed a sustainable event standard which can be found here.
Of course, it is not just what is happening when delegates are at the destination, it begins from the moment they leave their home. Measuring the use of public transport vs taxis, or shared transport for multiple delegates, all helps minimize the carbon footprint, as of course does the air transport and whether this has been offset.
When at the destination, staying at hotels that are within walking distance of the venue, is an easy solution to minimize carbon footprint, and travel expenses. Or, arranging large transport solutions to maneuver multiple people at one time. Using public transport such as trams or electric buses is another key example. The ability to tell the story of the city’s public transport and how efficient this is can be key to include within proposals and presentations.
Venues & hotels should partner with the destinations, to provide green certified paperwork, so this can be easily calculated and reported to clients to assist with their calculations. Of course, a large amount of work is currently underway with stand building companies in using booths and furniture that is recycled or re-purposed. Suppliers across the events chain are all building this narrative, however, may not always be eloquent in how they articulate this (currently at least).
Finally, community work whilst in destination is again an increasingly popular activity, allowing the client / organization to contribute positively to rebuilding or assisting an economy, especially in an area that is topical and relates to their own values and principles (ie: building homes / cleaning waterways / planting trees / community projects). Clients want a positive legacy from their event or incentive trip and the destinations need to be able to assist them construct, tell and share this story.