The Expensive Sustainable Event Venue, but who for?

The conference industry is an established ever growing industry with businesses expanding and partnering with other overseas companies across the globe. With new digital information, an unsteady economic climate and government reports planning to profit on tourism, Corporate Social Responsibility is now a corporate objective and used as a unique selling point within marketing (Bhattacharya, Sen, Korschun, 2007).

Water, electric and land are the main critical issues venue managers face when addressing their corporate social responsibility and impact on the environment.orate Social Responsibility is now a corporate objective and used as a unique selling point within marketing (Bhattacharya, Sen, Korschun, 2007).

For venues it is their ability to be as sustainable or as “green” as possible that measures their performance in attempting to tackle ethical values. In 2012 China announced its plans to become the world leader of tourist destinations for conferences by having 120 conference centers by 2020. The question is, who is it who places the pressure upon conference venues to be sustainable?

It has been claimed that CSR is a marketing tool created by venues, (Business Standard, 2009) and that the financial impact on conference venues to comply with CSR venue trends is does not have a negative profitable impact on the venue but is instead passed onto the consumer via ticket prices, increasing profit margins for venues overall

Greenbiz (2013) posted an article titled;

“Your most powerful marketing tool? Your sustainability story” – stating that “Green consumers are not “green consumers.” They are “the most desirable consumers”

“Green consumes”  will choose to spend more on the hiring of products and services for the ethical trademark in comparison to any other consumer type. ( Shelton, 2013)

For venues this may be a profitable opportunity however the following questions arise from this:

  • Are delegates willing to pay more in order to visit a socially responsible venue? This question arose after Mair and Jago’s (2009) research which found that stakeholder pressure was the least voted for on the list to push for sustainable events.
  • Is CSR more important to the generation of 16-25 than to older generations?  (Davidson, 2009)
  • What kind of venues will be demanded in the future?
    Or is CSR in terms of event sustainability only a trend in marketing and will this only be a faze.  Business Standard). Meanwhile Mair and Jago (2009) announced that their research showed companies motive for running a more environmentally friendly events was simply to use the sustainable term as a USP.
  • Or finally, is the “ Green Star” (Green Building Council Australia) going to be a top 5 priority after cost, accessibility and specifications of venues countering the claim that the  USP will increase profit margins per ticket? (Shelton, 2013)

Overall it appears that event sustainability within CSR is more appealing to venues in order to improve annual profit margins rather than their impact on the environment.  This initially appears unethical, however the changes in venue sustainability still allow for a decreased level of  carbon footprint, recycling and various energy wastage level for venues which overall is the largest critical issues for event sustainability.