Blog #17: Let’s get practical and tactical about regenerative events

This blog is part two of my Event Evolution: Towards a Sustainable Future miniseries. If you missed the first one, you can read it here.

In it, I share my framework for Destination Marketing Organisations to create sustainable, regenerative events. It’s a framework that shows how simply making small tweaks to your current planning process can have you well on your way to creating sustainable, regenerative events.

This blog is all about tactics. Let’s stick with the same example of planning a DMO Town Hall event and work through categories we tend to see reoccurring. For each one, we’ll ask key questions in key areas that can uncover unsustainable practices, help us challenge the status quo, and hopefully encourage change that lasts long beyond our event.

First up, Transportation and Accessibility 

  • What transport options are available? Is the venue near a public transport hub, and if not, does it offer hybrid or electric vehicles to rent or as shuttles?
  • Once there, is it possible to walk or bike to any nearby attractions?
  • Is the venue accessible for all needs? This goes beyond a simple ramp at the entrance; have a look at doorways, elevators, split-level spaces, bedroom layout, and dining space accessibility. This goes for any planned activities, too.
  • I’ve covered accessibility and inclusivity of events very briefly in a video, which includes an excellent Inclusive Event Design Playbook by Oddity Events and Marketing. This is a huge topic that I’m going to dive into soon, so watch this space.

Procurement and Food & Beverage

  • Swag is the elephant in the room. Do our delegates really need this USB stick/huge T-shirt/baseball cap/coffee cup? Or is it just an opportunity to get our logo in their hands? There are so many opportunities here to get creative with virtual options like coupons, discounts, and access to sites or games. No waste just wins.
  • When it comes to food and drinks, ask for plant-forward, allergy-friendly, ethically and locally sourced menus. This needs to be our new bare minimum.
  • Once we’ve secured this foundation, we can start to ask questions not just about what is served but also about how. Ask your venue to forego individual sugar packets, plastic cutlery, tetra-packed milk, and cling-wrapped foods. Plastic bottles of water…hopefully, that’s already a no-brainer!
  • Have the venue provide separate bins for food waste, plastics, cardboard, and general waste so that leftover food does not end up in the landfill and create more methane.
  • Next, ask the venue to donate any leftover food. This requires some effort from the venue, but it’s just a matter of education. There’s a fantastic charity here in Canada called Second Harvest, and I encourage you to see if there is something similar in your host destination. If you, like me, are based in Canada, here is a list of the legislation governing the donation of food.

Energy, Water and Waste

  • Ask if a venue measures its energy and resource use. Even if you’re fairly sure they don’t, just by asking and explaining why it’s important, you encourage the venue to be curious about how they can change things up.
  • Is the venue trying to lower its energy consumption?  On your site tour, look out for LED lights, washroom sensors for lights, low-flow toilets, and garbage separation. 
  • Request wipe clean tables rather than table linen to avoid unnecessary water usage.
  • Know that we’re not looking for perfection! However, we need to bring these criteria into our decision-making process and spark thought for the venues themselves so they can make positive changes, too.


  • Who is coming? We all have our regular attendee lists, and it’s easy to get complacent. But if we only invite people we know, we’ll only hear ideas we already know. We create an echo chamber, and that’s not how we will thrive and grow!
  • An easy win is to bring in local tourism students to show them firsthand how these events work and to encourage them to share their insights.
  • Invest in the community! Allow local artisans to sell, perform at your event, or even speak. Create a longer table and a less insular event. 
  • The Travel Foundation’s Kelly Galaski wrote a fantastic piece all on representation, which I highly recommend as a resource. 
  • Keep in mind that a truly regenerative event leaves its location in a better state than it arrived. This includes the community and people involved in it.

Measurement and Impact

  • What are we aiming to change? We can’t see improvement without measurement, so work out what your baseline carbon measurement is for this event as you would normally host it and set a target for reducing it.
  • TRACE, an event measurement platform, helps measure and minimize carbon across all events. It’s a fantastic tool you can learn more about in my video.


  • Who within your community could use a boost? As DMOs, we have the opportunity to showcase community leaders who are making great changes but need more share of voice. 
  • DMOs used to be positioned as leading the way in marketing, but now the M in DMO is much more about Management, guiding the entire tourism ecosystem. We can take charge and change the game, to making things better for not just visitors but for residents. Your event location is someone’s business trip, someone’s holiday, but someone else’s home. 

By working through these key areas and asking the right (but tough) questions, you’ll create an event that is more considered, more impactful, and more sustainable.

It might feel like you’re asking questions that you already know the answer to. I urge you to ask anyway. By bringing sustainable, inclusive and regenerative practices to the discussion, we can help nudge venues, event attendees and communities to change for the better. And the more DMOs asking these questions, the more pressure we place on our partners to get on the same page. We touch so many spheres and have the power to make change!


I invite you to take the first step in making this change and creating truly regenerative events.