Incorporating sustainability into events may seem daunting. The myriad of options available to make your events more sustainable can leave your head swimming. There is no clear path to immediate success, but don’t let that stop you. By asking just one question, then another, and then another it makes it easier.

In this premier post of a Start by Asking a Question series, we take a deeper look at transport. Specifically, we address what is sometimes the “elephant in the room” for sustainable events—attendee travel. We have the opportunity as host organizations and planners to change or influence behavior of the participants.

Question #1 – Is the destination city close to the majority of your attendees?

By selecting a city located in close proximity to the attendees, it will allow for a variety of options for travel.

Benefits: will save money, time, fuel, and emissions

Resource: Use Google Flights to check your carbon footprint. Want to learn more? Read Google Flights Carbon Tool Test Drive written by Shawna McKinley.

Fun Fact: First class vs. economy class produces 4x the carbon footprint. Nonstop flights save 40% over multi-stop flights.

Carbon Footprint Travel Mode

Source: Our World Data

Question #2 – Can the attendees take mass transit from the airport to the venue?

Benefits: will save money and emissions

Resource: Most International Airports have rail or bus service information posted that outline directions, hours of service, and common destinations.

Fun Fact: Many destinations will provide free passes for event attendees if you ASK!

Question #3 – Can you incentivize taking mass transit, shuttles or ride share?


  • Allow opportunities for out-of-town attendees to explore the event city
  • Continued attendee interaction in traveling together to the event site or offsite gatherings, instead of traveling on their own by car

Resource: My Event Footprint

Fun Fact: Gamification on your conference app is a fun way to enroll participants. Social media campaigns can also help amplify the attendee experience.

How far can you go on 1 ton of carbon?

  • Medium car – 5,208 km
  • Taxi – 6,667 km
  • Bus – 9,524 km
  • Motorcycle – 9,709 km
  • National rail – 24,390 km
Carbon Footprint travel Mode Chart

Source: Our World Data

What’s Next?

Follow along in the series of “Start by Asking a Question” that will give you answers to make your events sustainable. Here are more topics for this series and in the meantime you can check out our current resources.

Future Topics

  • Food & Beverage
  • Service Ware
  • Hotel Accommodation
  • Swag
  • Shipping & Freight
  • Recycling and Composting
  • Donations
  • Hybrid Events

Our Current Resources