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Corporate Event Organisers Look to a Sustainable Industry, with Sustainable Practices

front-cover-landscapeEnsuring the sustainability of events has risen to become the key challenge corporate organisers are looking to tackle between now and 2024, according to this year’s ICE Annual Benchmarking Research Report, sponsored by Cvent. The objective was shared by 77% of the respondents of the annual survey and sat ahead of ‘the ability to deliver hybrid events’ (73%) and ‘educating internal audiences on when live / hybrid formats should be adopted’ (53%).

However, the report also underlined concerning issues within the hierarchy of event teams within large businesses, leaving the community looking at its own long-term sustainability, as well as that of the environment and other CSR practices within the industry.

The report also underlined the importance of measurement to event organisers in achieving sustainability goals. Most planners reported that their organisations have already established CSR goals, however measurement remains key with close to 40% of respondents reporting its importance. Across the research, organisers prioritised the ‘tracking of C02 emissions’ as a key metric for live events, behind ‘Electricity consumption’, ‘Distance travelled by visitors and organisers’, and ‘Sustainability of catering’.

In the meantime, and similar to last year, delivering more virtual/hybrid events also remains a key challenge for planners. In the 2020 report, the challenge around virtual/hybrid events centred on increasing the technological competency within the team. Now that teams have more experience delivering these events, challenges have moved to the volume being delivered, as well as optimising the virtual/hybrid experience.

A new challenge has also emerged in relation to the hybrid world, that of educating internal contacts on when live/virtual events should be considered. Over half of respondents say this is an issue they are hoping to tackle in the next few years.

However, as well as the immediate challenges the industry faces, ICE continues to show its concern around a lack of a clear ’home’ for event planners within the organisational structures of large businesses. The report highlighted the issue; 50% of respondents saw the natural place of events within the marketing department, however the remainder were spread across over 15 different company departments.

“We talk a lot about this ‘natural home’ within the ICE community. We do so because we see it as a massive sleeping giant of an issue that, when it wakes up, could be incredibly destructive,” comments Anita Howard, Founder and CEO, ICE. “Event departments need protection through the structure of the company; if they are out on a limb, they can be isolated, whereas, if they are integrated they can add more value across the organisation.”

Felicia Asiedu, Senior Marketing Manager for Cvent Europe, added: “It’s encouraging to see that this year’s research shows that half of planners see the natural place of events within the marketing department. This enhanced partnership has laid the foundation for what we are calling the new event marketing opportunity, which offers event and marketing professionals the potential to collect and review a wider data set across multiple channels that can help support more targeted marketing efforts, thus encouraging richer personalised experiences for prospects and clients. This in turn enables organisations to reach and engage new and larger audiences and missing countless opportunities to drive results. An integrated approach within the organisation means planners and marketers can come together to align strategies and deliver dynamic, engaging event experiences.”

The research also underlined the growing challenges of actually being an event professional, with 14 different skills identified as being important to the role, up from 10 in last year’s report. These included working with stakeholders (31%), multi-tasking (30%) and project management (50%). Converting events to digital (67%) and understanding technology (69%) were both predictably strong new inclusions in the growing #eventprof skill set.

The ICE Report 2021 was commissioned by ICERESEARCH, conducted by Explori and supported by Cvent, building on the findings from last year’s report and looking to understand how the industry has evolved over the last 12 months. The research included both quantitative (survey based) and qualitative (focus groups) research across over 60 in-house corporate event organizers, with 86% based in the UK, 11% in mainland Europe and the remainder across Asia-Pacific and the Americas.

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