Attendee Experience

The host organization of an event says they are sustainable and use the earth’s resources wisely. Are the attendees experiencing the sustainable initiatives? Are they learning how to convene sustainably?

What Should an Attendee Expect?

For example, if the event organizer states they are reducing the event’s carbon emissions, what should you, as an attendee, expect to see or not see?

  • Was the event location close to most of the community’s base, requiring minimal or no air travel?
  • Did the menu options include plant-based proteins instead of high-carbon foods such as beef or pork?
  • Instead of disposable plates, forks, and cups, did you notice if your meals were served on reusable service ware?

The good deeds with the biggest impacts are often difficult to see or experience.

What is the Perception Impact of the Event?

Hosts may have worked very hard to reduce their carbon footprint, which is important. However, if their community can’t recognize any of the steps or initiatives, what is the “Perception Impact” of the event? Will key stakeholders trust what is being done on their behalf? Or will the organization be called out for not being a good corporate citizen?

Tell the Sustainable Story of Your Event

A favorable perception impact is essential; event organizers should plan to tell the story and bring it front and center to the eye of the beholder.

Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council 2023 Summit

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council did that at their 2023 Summit. On stage at the beginning of the program, the CEO started by taking five minutes talking about what goes on behind the scenes and how the sustainability initiatives are being implemented.

Sustainability Purchasing Leadership Council 2023 CEO Opening Session - RTW Photography

Oracle CloudWorld

Take, for instance, Oracle CloudWorld, which has removed the aisle carpet from the show floor. Did the guests notice it’s gone? This decision helped save the equivalent of 13,452 gallons of gasoline from being consumed while not impacting the attendee experience. Or that the planners served zero beef during the recent event; adding beef to 50% of the meals would have added the carbon emissions equivalent to driving to the moon and back twice!

Oracle CloudWorld 2023 Show Floor
Oracle CloudWorld 2023 Sustainable Menu Signage

ReFED Food Waste Solutions Summit

At the Food Waste Solutions Summit presented by ReFED in May, very cool solutions were visible to participants, increasing their perception of impact.

  • During the Summit, the organizers put attendees into teams to see who could build something “cool” out of canned goods & boxed foods. Not only was this a team-building activity, but the canned and boxed goods were later donated to a local charity after the event, resulting in the equivalent of 1,935 meals for the local community.
  • The Food Waste Solutions Summit also provides attendees 8-10 field trips to the food banks and other community organizations, allowing them to give back while learning about their organization.
ReFED Food Waste Solutions Summit Field Trip

ROSCon 2023

ROSCon 2023 is a developers’ conference that represents the entire ROS community, which is global and diverse. New this year, ROSCon invited STEM Students from a local high school in New Orleans, Louisiana, to attend the opening remarks, visit with exhibitors, and learn from Brian Gerkey (Director of Open Robotics, Intrinsic & former CEO, Founder at Open Robotics).

  • ROSCon strives to ensure that their community is open and accessible to all. Each year, ROSCon offers a limited number of scholarships to members of the traditionally underrepresented groups in the robotics community. This year, they provided 15 attendees with an opportunity they would only have been able to experience with this scholarship.
ROSCon 2023 Scholarship Recipients

Communicate the Sustainable Impacts at Your Event

When doing cool things at your events, especially when it positively impacts the local community and the world, make sure it is visible to your key stakeholders. Conversely, if the impacts aren’t visible to tell the story when they arrive onsite, the perception will leave your attendees with a negative impression of the event. Sustainability is, in fact, in the eye of the beholder!