Conference News June 2022 | Page 18

18 Opinion


Warren Campbell ith the rise in green marketing , which is based on legitimate positive environmental claims , sometimes the line between authenticity and greenwashing can become blurred .
From the conversations we are having with event planners , there ’ s no doubt that sustainability and corporate social responsibility have moved up the corporate agenda . Organisations are wanting to take control and make more ethical choices . As a result , the venue directories and platforms that agents are using to source venues are now featuring a whole range of key sustainability commitments .
Asking the right questions While I ’ m encouraged to see more venues are seeking to become more sustainable , I do think there ’ s an issue of greenwashing in the sector – particularly with the terminology that ’ s being used . Take the definition of an environmentally friendly venue , for example . What does that actually mean ? If a venue claims that it is environmentally friendly but is still using single-use plastic , it is not .
Terminology like “ we are aiming to ” or “ wanting to be ” is all well and good , but they need to be making actual strides to get there . There can be a million reasons as to why things may get delayed or diverted , so that ’ s not a criticism ; instead it ’ s about being transparent .
Similarly , if a venue ’ s website is


Warren Campbell , general manager of 15Hatfields , says greenwashing is becoming an issue with our industry
too polished and there ’ s no data to substantiate their environmental claims , there ’ s a strong likelihood it ’ s marketing jargon . Asking lots of questions will quickly reveal if a venue is doing what it says it is committing to .
These questions should cover the following areas : 1 . Accreditation Has the venue been independently accredited to a national or internationally recognised and benchmarked standard ? Any accreditation worth its salt should include a robust audit and look at what impacts are measured and the whole life-cycle . It ’ s not about joining an accreditation for just a year . 2 . Evidence is key Ask for the data behind the claims . Are they freely sharing what they have created , what they are measuring , their benchmarks and their successes ? What are the waste streams and have they got recycling data that they produce ? Or , can they provide food miles from where their products are coming from ? 3 . Influence Are they trying to influence their supply chain ? Do they have an independent audit of
“ Terminology like ‘ we are aiming to ’ or ‘ wanting to be ’ is all well and good , but they need to be making actual strides to get there .” their suppliers ? Are they asking questions related to their purchasing ? 4 . Site visit You need to look past the room and the set-up . What are you seeing as you walk around the venue ? Is there anything made out of 100 % recycled material ? Are recycling bins readily available and visible ? Speak to the staff , and if they aren ’ t aware of the environmental work of the venue , that should be a red flag . 5 . Advice Are they working with event planners to help planners reduce their event ’ s environmental impact ? Do they have a digital application to track key metrics , or do they offer tips to assist the event-planning process ?
Whether or not a venue is only just starting out on its sustainable journey , it ’ s all about integrity and being transparent on their position .
We don ’ t claim to have all of the answers . Instead , it ’ s about trying to keep pace as the business evolves , having a commitment , sharing best practice , being open and not making false claims about your successes and achievements along the way . www . conference-news . co . uk