We don’t do eco-trends, we create them

Written by Dr Chiara Civardi

There are those who follow the latest trends and those who make them. This is valid in the fashion industry as well as… the event industry!

Since 2020, online conferences have become the ‘little black dress’ of the events world. It’s the neat little trick we’ve all relied upon that can maximise attendance, trade fair availability and sustainability. 

Before March 2020, though, these types of events were far from common. To draw a parallel, anyone offering a virtual exhibition back in 2019 could be compared to Coco Chanel, who introduced and popularised the little black dress!

It was during this time that V-Ex – who had been building virtual exhibitions for 10 years already – asked me to research to what extent virtual alternatives to physical trade shows could contribute to cutting carbon emissions. This was an ambitious project to complete, as limited literature and data were available.

Nonetheless, we were able to provide a comprehensive overview, whose results caught the entire team by surprise. We had hypothesized that going digital would be a more eco-conscious decision, as the carbon footprint associated to travel, venue heating and lighting – as well as stand assembly etc. – are eliminated. However, we weren’t expecting to discover that virtual events are so much more sustainable than their traditional, physical counterparts. More specifically, the servers and resources utilised by V-Ex create less than 1% of the carbon emissions involved with an average tradeshow.

Over the last few years, virtual events have become increasingly popular, making our research more important than ever. In effect, as the number of online conferences increased, more and more sustainability studies have emerged. Many of these studies found our white paper to be one of the most complete and accurate desk-based assessments on the environmental impact of the event industry.

This is why our research is being referenced in several notable publications, including peer-reviewed articles and scientific books. Examples include:

  • Hagen, D. (2021). Sustainable Event Management: New Perspectives for the Meeting Industry Through Innovation and Digitalisation?. In Innovations and Traditions for Sustainable Development (pp. 259-275). Springer, Cham. 
  • Hagen, D. (2022) Perspektiven von Netzwerkbildung in der Meeting Industry im Spannungsfeld zwischen Digitalisierung und Nachhaltigkeit sowie neuen Geschäftsmodellen. In Events und Wege aus der Krise. “The New Normal” aus Sicht von Wissenschaft und Praxis (pp.191-206). Springer, Gabler, Wiesbaden.

Digital event solutions are proven to be a sustainable solution for businesses to communicate effectively with a global audience at any time. We are proud to be able to offer precisely this – and lead the way with advanced platforms and insights. V-Ex doesn’t follow trends, it sets them!

Read the original report (“Making Industrial Exhibitions Green”) here.