Sustainability takes centre stage in Sin City

To inspire our sustainability efforts for the year (and decade) ahead, our General Manager Marc Iacano reflected on his IMEX 2019 experience, pulling together his key takeaways for the industry.

Last year I found myself walking the carpeted halls of Las Vegas, the most over-the-top city on earth. The place where real-world considerations come a far second to glitz, glamour, extremes and excessive consumption. With flashing lights in my eyes and the sounds of poker machines in my ears, I made my way to the Sands Expo Centre to be part of what is the largest event globally for events professionals, IMEX 2019. IMEX invites event professionals from a huge range of disciplines and sectors and this was my first year in attendance. But not Vegas—Vegas and I have been friends for years, so I was surprised at a few of my key takeaways from the experience.

The travel distance is never fun but I was motivated to attend IMEX and immerse myself at centre stage in the industry. It was also an opportunity to investigate the changing landscape of events from a global level. We can all attest to the fact that it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day in our own bubble so this was a welcome time out to get abreast of new industry trends, emerging tech, and partners that will help shape the future of the industry. Across the marquees and mirrors, three very strong trends came through for me; technology, sustainability and agility.

Over the past two years at GPJ, we’ve put a large emphasis on sustainability initiatives across our offices and client events and experiences. It’s no secret that GPJ has many global clients and the need to stay in touch with current sustainability trends is imperative.

Working with numerous hotel and venue partners across ANZ, I was most impressed by the sustainability presentation from the team at MGM. Famous for luxury and grandeur properties like Bellagio, MGM Grand and many others, it came as a surprise that they had such a clearly defined international sustainable practice. With pressures mounting for events to have more consideration, particularly in terms of sustainability, it was refreshing to hear and see their approach. Their online planning tool to assist planners with their sustainability choices when organising events was a standout of the event and breath of fresh air that I’d love to share with more companies in Australia. Their tool allows planners to select one of four ideas that deliver a primary societal and/or environmental benefit: Save Energy, Save Water, Save Materials/Waste, Engage Community. The tool goes on to guide, educate, and plan with these core practices in mind.

Across the expo floor, the focus on event sustainability was stronger than ever. As a leading experiential agency, we’re aware of and solve sustainability problems—but it’s an evolving field with new tools and techniques to consider regularly. If you don’t have a plan or know how you want to tackle best practices, your clients will leave you behind in search of companies that understand the importance.

For those of you within the event industry across suppliers, venues, and agencies, here are 5 quick tips I took out from the show:

  1. Have a sustainability plan for your company and for your clients
  2. Get across how your clients are approaching sustainability and get ahead of them
  3. Communicate that plan with staff and clients alike for internal ambassadors
  4. Communicate to attendees about what you are doing, it’s no use doing it all and them not knowing what they are contributing to
  5. Put pressure on those suppliers around you to do the same, if not it just won’t happen

Whilst the idea of trekking to Vegas each year is attractive, I’d suggest that you don’t need to go that far to continue to learn what the future of events and experiences holds in Australia. Culturally we are already adapting and planning for the future, and I’m confident in the way we can work together to showcase the best of sustainability on our special continent.

If it can happen in Sin City, sustainability best practices can happen anywhere. Who’s with me to make 2020 the most enviro-friendly we’ve ever been?
About IMEX:
IMEX America attracts over 4000+ decision makers from all over the world, 3000+ Exhibitors including, venues, hotels, a multitude of others plus it hosts over 180+ educational events.

Marc Iacono, General Manager GPJ ANZ