Ovation Portugal DMC’s Ana Polonio shares her insights on the future of sustainable travel and events.
“For me, sustainability has always been a HUGE topic not only in my personal life but also in my career as an Event Manager. I have two children and for them preserving nature and trying to avoid waste, as well as, helping local communities is a natural thing. Although they are only 6 and 8 years old, they understand that there is only one planet where we can live (at least for the moment) and if we don’t take care of it carefully, we may end up destroying it.”
The same happens in most companies nowadays. Many companies are starting to see sustainability and organizing sustainable travel and events as a priority. They assume this is crucial not only for their success but also for the survival of their businesses and above all the survival of the human species. This focus on sustainability in the world has been increasing but it gained even more importance after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business and sustainability
As many people were forced to stay home around the world, we saw the oceans were cleaner, our forests were greener, and the air was lighter with less pollution. With this virus, we were forced to see the damages we had been doing to the planet and to understand that nature has superpowers and that we can’t control everything in this world. Maybe we need to be humbler and start thinking in a different way. Give more importance to the simplest things in life, care for each other and most importantly find a purpose in our actions.
These were very hard times for several industries, but travel/tourism was without a doubt one of the most negatively impacted industries. It is true that destinations were fast in offering the possibility of virtual tours and travel. However, the experience is not the same as when we travel and visit destinations like we were used to in the past. Companies that used to get together either for meetings or incentives were also forced to turn live events into virtual events in record time. This was a way of keeping the teams together and to keep “normality” the best way possible.
The future of sustainable travel
Now that we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and that we are trying to get back to “normal,” it feels that people are more conscious about the environmental impact they have when traveling/organizing events which may lead to a dramatic change in the future in this area.
A few points on what Ana thinks would be the bigger changes in the future:
- Destinations that are more committed to sustainability will be the most popular.
- When choosing the destination, people will be willing to work with a partner that shares the same values as they do in terms of sustainability.
- There will be an increase in demand in helping local communities when organizing an event or traveling to a destination. Most people are willing to make a positive impact.
- Venues, restaurants, catering, vehicles, etc. will be asked to meet a series of requirements in case they would like to keep being considered in the future.
- Live events/groups will be smaller when compared to the pre-Covid times.
- Hybrid will be the best of both worlds in the future. The events will most probably have participants that are closer to the destination physically and people that are far away online. This will be a way of avoiding long flights and reducing our carbon footprint.
- Full online events will continue to be an option especially for events/meetings that are not considered to be essential.
- To appeal to the new generations, technology like AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) will play a big role in this area.
To conclude events will be a mix between physical and virtual but with the same purpose; promote a positive impact in the world and in the communities where they will take place. “We as Event Managers will need to keep up with all the constant updates/changes. This is especially true when it comes to technology, promoting sustainability, and creating a sense of community and meaning in our events. Without leaving behind the fundamentals to provide an outstanding event experience for our clients!”, says Ana.
At Ovation Portugal DMC and Ovation Global DMC we have a strong commitment to sustainability. Our global Sustainability Team is there to ensure we are constantly organizing sustainable travel and events for clients.