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7 Key Takeaways from The Sustainable Events Show

Tuesday 28 November 2023

 The Sustainable Events Show  Sustainable venues seminar

The VSL team were proud to partner with The Sustainable Events Show, where we exhibited alongside some of the UK’s leading sustainable venues, caterers and suppliers, as we all work towards a greener future for our world-leading events industry.

The event also marked the launch of our new London Sustainable venues portal, where we have partnered with Greengage and Green Meetings to rank and recognise those venues that are in the various stages of their sustainability journeys.

Our CEO, Sam Gill spoke on a well-attended panel discussion, where the issues around venue selection and its impact on the carbon impact of events was discussed.

Here are his seven key takeaways from the session:

1) Improved travel is the key to lowering carbon impact

With public transport delivering around 75% lower carbon emissions than petrol cars, reducing car travel to and from events is the number one target when delivering sustainable events. One recent survey indicates that travel accounts for 78% of carbon emissions from events and that many event planners do not consider travel to and from events as part of their responsibility (but it plainly is!).

2) Planning sustainable menus is a quick and easy win

With events often seen as “special occasions”, taking perceived “treat foods” (beef, lamb etc.) off dinner menus can be a tough decision, but event planners need to be braver in promoting menus with lower carbon impact. All leading caterers have invested heavily in researching and presenting lower carbon menus for conferences, awards and parties, but demand for these remains far too low and is a key area for improvement.

3) Dry hire venues are rarely the sustainable choice

Whilst using a museum, historic palace or empty warehouse, can often give you a special “wow factor” when delivering memorable moments, event planners who measure the sustainability of these events will also be wowed by their higher carbon impact. This is due to the additional supplier travel required by caterers, furniture and production companies, when compared to using established venues with in-house catering and permanent event production.

4) Go local and regional, not national

Returning to the travel impact above, delivering more local events (and fewer national ones) will have a dramatic impact on the carbon footprint of event programmes, with far lower delegate travel and accommodation requirements. Local events will also improve in-person attendance rates and reduce wasted travel time – the perfect win-win!

5) Hybrid-ready venues are they key for conferences

One of the only good things to come out of the recent lock-downs is the huge improvement in virtual event platforms and streaming facilities at conference venues.  Whilst we all agree that delegates get far more from in-person attendance, using a venue with excellent streaming facilities will increase the reach of conferences and reduce the carbon impact of flights and international business travel.

6) Let’s put long-haul incentives in Room 101!

And speaking of international flights, surely we must be nearing the death-knell of incentive travel?  There are so many great destinations in the UK that can host great rewards (whilst at the same time supporting our very own venues). And if you do want to travel further afar, the Eurostar has a great way to get abroad without the high emissions of international flights.

7) Leading by example – the opportunity to educate

Events are the perfect way for companies to demonstrate their sustainability credentials to their people and customers and by presenting improved menus and other good business practices, this will help influence personal behaviour and sustainability awareness.  These subliminal “nudges” all help us towards a more sustainable future and are a great way to recruit and retain our increasingly climate-conscious workforce.

And finally, we all know that there are many other areas of sustainability (societal, local, environmental etc) which make up any venue’s or company’s policies, but it is by reducing carbon emissions on events that the industry will drive the most pressing changes required over the next few years.

You can view London’s most sustainable venues, drop us a quick email or call us on 0207 870 9305 for further information and guidance on how we best to deliver sustainable events in and around London.


Sam Gill

Founder Director, Venue Search London
As Founder of Venue Search London and with over 30 years of UK event experience, Sam has a vast knowledge and understanding of the London venues scene, having previously operated and designed some of the most iconic event spaces in the capital. He believes that selecting the right venue is at the very heart of every successful event.