How to Get Your Boss on Board with Sustainable Events

June 17, 2019

Julia Spangler

Julia Spangler is the owner of Ecosystem Events, a sustainable events consultancy company. Julia helps organizations and event professionals reduce the environmental impact of their events in order to preserve our planet and deliver powerful sustainability stories. 

When I was in my previous career in marketing and communications, I worked on a team that planned corporate events. My role was graphic design, so I didn’t usually offer input about much other than fonts and colors.

At the same time, being green was super-important to me in my personal life. And I saw lots of opportunities for my team’s events to be more sustainable.

I wondered for a long time how to propose the idea of greener events to the team. Would my boss and the team leaders think I was being presumptuous? Would they be willing to change the way we had always done things?

Presenting new ideas to leaders can be intimidating, especially if you’re suggesting changes to deeply-ingrained processes. If you’ve been wanting to start a conversation about sustainability with your supervisor—or if you’ve tried before with no success—here are my suggestions for how to get buy-in from leaders to go green at your events.

If your boss doesn’t care...

Some people feel emotionally motivated by the idea of helping the environment—and some people don’t. If your boss is one of the latter, skip the pictures of sea turtles and instead make a strong business case for why sustainable events will benefit your company. Focus on green suggestions that will generate cost savings. Calculate the net savings of implementing your ideas so you can show how much sustainability will add to the bottom line.

If your boss cares but hasn’t taken action...

If your boss says things like “I hate seeing all this wasted food” or “I wish we didn’t have so much stuff to throw away,” they may care about sustainability but not have the time to learn about solutions. Start by proposing one concrete solution to a sustainability issue at your events. Do the research and map out the steps your team would need to take, the people and budget required, and what the results would be. Be sure to highlight any cost savings or other benefits like improved image or increased value for your clients.

Share compelling examples.

Find examples of your company’s competitors who are going green. Alternately, think of companies or business leaders that your boss admires, and find out what they’re doing in the area of sustainability. The general concept of “industry best practices” may not be enough to convince your boss that sustainability is worthwhile, but a specific example from a company they care about may help ignite their motivation.

Be willing to take on the work yourself.

Offer to do the research and legwork to make the change happen. Your boss may be willing to allow you to take on a passion project as long as it doesn’t take time and focus away from your primary job responsibilities.

Do what you can without buy-in.

Make all of the cost-neutral or cost-saving sustainable changes you can within the scope of your job responsibilities. Take advantage of green options offered by vendors you work with, and focus on preventing waste in the decisions you make in the course of your job.

Measure the results of your changes.

Keep complete records of the cost savings realized by your changes, along with statistics like the amount of waste diverted or the tax value of donations. Save any positive comments you hear about the changes from your guests, customers or other audience. Organize your data with dates so you can show trends over time as the programs continue. The purpose of the results data is to prove why the green changes were worthwhile and to build a case for doing even more.

 

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.