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The concept of sustainability involves a set of activities that takes care of the interest of the environment, the society and the community. In order for an organisation to operate sustainably, it needs to ensure that its operations are able to develop and retain conditions, where humans and nature can co-exist and proliferate harmoniously (EPA, 2016). Sustainable practices are focused on creating an environment, where the resources are utilised in the most efficient way, while reducing the negative impact on the ecosystem. From organisational perspective, it can be highlighted that the firms are often engaged in sustainable practices to ensure long term benefits for the stakeholders (Aggerholm et al., 2011). However, it is frequently debated that taking care of the environment and society can sometimes have a negative reflection on the financial performance of the organisation. Organisations with myopic vision and with transactional approach are more focused on improving their profitability without paying much attention to the sustainability of their business (Goel and Sivam, 2015; Collins, et al., 2007). Sustainable business practices emphasise on the long term benefits of the organisation and the stakeholders that are directly and indirectly associated with the business activities. This report covers an in-depth discussion of sustainability of event management that includes theoretical models along with the benefits and challenges of its implementation.
Exploration and Application of Triple Bottom Line Theory
Organisational sustainability has become one of the most discussed topics of recent times. It compels the authorities to take care of the stakeholders while maintaining equality. Russo and Perrini (2010) have mentioned that a sustainable approach of an organisation involves taking care of all the stakeholders. These stakeholders are individuals or entities, which are directly and indirectly, involved with the business operations of a firm, such as the customers, employees, society, environment, investors, shareholders and the government (Hubbard, 2009; Fowler and Hope, 2007). A sustainable approach suggests that the organisation must take a holistic approach to take care of the interest of all the stakeholders by paying equal attention to all of these entities.
The triple bottom line approach is one of the well-known theoretical models that is used by organisations to maintain sustainability of business operations. This theoretical model segregates the performance of an organisation based on three parameters, which are environment, society and economy (Gimenez et al., 2012; Hall, 2011). This framework can be applied to assess the sustainability of an organisation and its activities.
The concept of sustainability can be discussed from the perspective of event management. The process of organising an event can have some prominent impacts on the environment, society and the community (Jones, 2014). Thus, it is up to the event managers to ensure that the event management process is designed in such a way so that it can have minimal negative impact in these areas. The environmental impact can be assessed by the carbon footprint or the amount of wastage made by an organisation. The societal impact is associated by the influence on the people from the organisational activity (Dickson and Arcodia, 2010). Finally, the financial aspect determines the ability of the organisation to generate sufficient revenue for the stakeholder and for itself. An event, irrespective of its nature, requires resources and support of the stakeholders (Babiak and Trendafilova, 2011; McWilliams, et al., 2016). According to the triple bottom line theory, it is the responsibility of the manager to ensure that the organised event does not hamper the environment, in which it is hosted, does not affect the social interest in any negative manner and it is able to earn sufficient amount of revenue for the organisation (Fairley et al., 2011; Estes, 2009).
The implementation of the triple bottom line theory can be best explained with the help of an event. The event of Balélec Music Festival in Switzerland can be described in terms of the triple bottom line theory in order to determine the sustainability of the event. As highlighted by Gasiorowski-Denis (2015), the Balélec Music Festival consists of 30 music concerts and accommodates nearly 15,000 visitors. The event of such massive magnitude offers a holistic experience for the visitors that include food stalls, drink bars, waste facilities, sanitation along with transportation services, etc. This suggests that the entire operational process will have significant impact on the environment. Therefore, it is crucial for the event managers to ensure that the entire event of the evening is hosted in the most sustainable way possible.
It has been ensured that the damaging impacts on the society, economy and the environment can be identified and mitigated. Based on the triple bottom line framework, it has been made sure that the environmental impact is pacified by enhancing waste management. A coordinated effort of the entire campus has made it possible to make sure that the waste generated by 15,000 visitors is properly managed and treated so that the environment is not hampered in any way. The use of reusable cups and dishes along with pocket ashtrays has proved to be quite helpful to curb the pollution. Furthermore, the implementation of the refundable public transportation reduced the amount of vehicular emission. In terms of the social impact, it has been ensured that the event did not have any negative impact on the society or the neighbourhood. The event was designed in such a manner that the daily lives the residents of the area are not affected by it. Reducing the sound pollution and conducting efficient crowd control have helped the event management team to make sure that the neighbourhood is not affected in any way. In terms of the financial performance of the event, it has been ensured that the event can attract a large number of audience, thereby increasing the revenue generation for the organising firm.
The example of this event highlights the importance of triple bottom line theory from the context of event management. It has been ensured that the event is designed to take care of the interest of all the stakeholders and its performance can be assessed based on the three pillars of the framework (Willard, 2012; Laing, et al., 2017). This theory has helped the organising committee to perform in a holistic manner and not merely on the ground of financial aspects. The societal and environmental perspective of the organisation has ensured that the interests of the community have been met along with the reduction of environmental impact. Thus, it can be stated that the event of Balélec Music Festival is sustainable in nature, which can be justified by the triple bottom line theory. However, the case of this event, presented by Gasiorowski-Denis (2015), highlights that there have been certain issues faced by the organiser. It can be stated that while implementing a holistic sustainable practice in an event, the organiser needs to ensure seamless communication among all the departments units. Moreover, lack of coordination due to scheduling pressure can also lead to poor attention to detail in the sustainable practices. Thus, it should be highlighted that implementing the triple bottom line approach in an event management process requires significant resources and effort to ensure that the event is sustainable in nature.
Benefits and Challenges of Sustainable Practices
Sustainable event management process can involve various benefits. Hacking and Guthrie (2008) have mentioned that an event that is managed sustainably can have positive impact on the corporate image of the organising company, thereby attracting a large number of investors and customers. This, as a result, will help in the financial development of the organisations. However, implementing sustainable approach can also come with certain challenges, among which the most pertinent one is the increased cost of operations (Gadenne et al., 2009).
In case of an event organisation, the organising company looks forward into successful completion of the event that leads to satisfied stakeholders, including the visitors and the business clients (Hede, 2007). A sustainable event is characterised by the presence of certain measures that reduce resource wastage and isolate the event from the environment. The core objective of sustainable event management is to make sure that the process of the event does not have any negative impact on the eco-system and the future events would be conducted in the same manner. Hosting sustainable events can prove to be quite beneficial for the organisers, especially for the ones periodic in nature. The minimal impact on the environment and the people should attract the support of the community, in which the event is being organised (Henderson, 2011). In this context, it can be stated that the event organiser can arrange for future events in the same venue at regular intervals more seamlessly. Moreover, the reduced environmental impact will also attract the interest and support of the local governmental bodies.
The benefits discussed above often encourage the organisers to conduct events that are sustainable in nature and take care of the interest of all the stakeholders, especially the society, community and the environment. Sustainable practices in event management play a crucial role in improving the brand image of the organiser. As mentioned by Andersson and Lundberg (2013), sustainable practices increase operational efficiency by reducing the resource wastage, thereby decreasing the operating cost of the project. Moreover, the benefits of sustainable events also include triggering new innovations. The organisations that pursue a sustainable approach are constantly looking forward to develop new operational activities that can help to foster increased efficiency and optimal resource utilisation (Dickson and Arcodia, 2010). This, as a result, drives them to innovate new business processes that are sustainable in nature, thereby increasing the profitability of the organisation in the long run.
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Sustainable practices can be recognised though accreditation that further facilitates in improving brand awareness among the stakeholders. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is a well-established auditing firm that assesses businesses based on different criteria. The standard of ISO 20121 is associated with assessing the sustainability of an event based on specific parameters (ISO, 2017). Ensuring sustainability in all three fronts (financial, social and environmental) will allow an organisation to receive high accreditation, which can help in communicating its sustainable practices to its stakeholders.
As highlighted by Raj and Musgrave (2009), there are certain areas, where the organisations face significant challenges while implementing sustainable practices for events or event managements. In some instances, the stakeholders fail to see the value of organising a green event. Even though sustainable practices can contribute to the CSR activities of the organisation, short-term monetary value becomes a decisive factor. The higher authorities are often motivated to achieve short-term financial goals, which compel them to avoid additional cost of going green. Getz and Andersson (2008) have mentioned that the sustainable event management may increase the initial cost of operations. The added operational activities to ensure resource optimisation reduce wastage, and decreased environmental impact can increase the cost of operations. However, it can be stated that the return on investment for green or sustainable event is prominently visible in the long run (Stefan and Paul, 2008). This, as a result, makes it quite challenging to convince all the stakeholders to adopt sustainable event management practices.
It can be stated that an organising firm is often focused on meeting the needs and preferences of the customers, which include successful organisation of the event, resulting in satisfied stakeholders (Molina-Azorín, et al., 2009). However, it can be quite challenging for the organiser to simultaneously maintain sustainability in event management and to meet the customers’ needs. It can lead to increase the requirement of human resources, thereby increasing the initial cost of operations (Svensson et al., 2010).
Business sustainability has become one of the determining factors of brand performance. The influence of the business operations on the environment and the society can determine the financial success of an organisation. As mentioned by Schaltegger et al. (2017), certain business policies and regulations govern the operational activities of a firm, especially on the grounds of business ethics and sustainability. Business practices that foster negative impact on the society or the environment can be penalised by the government, thereby leading to financial loss and dilution of brand image (Babiak and Trendafilova, 2011). Thus, it can be highlighted that the avoiding business sustainability may increase the short-term profit for the organisation, but in the long term, it can have detrimental impact on brand image and financial performance.
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Sustainability of event management has been defined in terms of its financial, societal and environmental performance parameters. A sustainable event ensures that the operational activities are able to take care of the interest of all the associated stakeholders, including the environment and the society. This study has revealed that sustainable business practices can be implemented in event management to ensure that the event does not have any negative influence on the stakeholders. A sustainable event ensures that the resources are used in the most optimal way so as to reduce the overall wastage. Moreover, sustainable practices can help to ensure that the society or the community, in which the event is being organised, is not being affected negatively. The importance of sustainable event management has been highlighted in the report by citing the example of Balélec Music Festival. It has been revealed that this event had been organised in a sustainable manner, which has been justified by using the triple bottom line theory. Ensuring performance in three key areas like finance, people (or society) and environment, has allowed the event to follow a sustainable approach, thereby taking care of the interest of all the stakeholders. The study has highlighted the key benefits and challenges of implementing sustainable event management practices. Among the benefits, it has been revealed that the sustainable practices can lead to improved corporate image that can attract both the customers and the investors. Furthermore, sustainable practices increase operational efficiency by reducing resource wastage. Taking care of the interest of the society attracts the support of its people for future events, thereby leading to seamless event organisation. Moreover, sustainable practices also attract the support of the government. Some key challenges have also been highlighted in the paper that involve increased fixed cost of operations and high requirement for human resources. This, as a result, can make it quite difficult to convince all the stakeholders to adopt a sustainable approach. Thus, it can be emphatically stated that even though sustainable event management can prove to be challenging in certain areas, it can be highly beneficial in the long run and should be pursued by the organisations.
Based on the study, certain recommendations can be provided that can improve the future of sustainable event managements. Firstly, it is suggested that the governments should introduce and implement business regulations that are stricter and compel every organisation to design its event organisation in a sustainable manner. The government should also take the necessary initiatives to spread the awareness of sustainability business practices among the stakeholders, especially the organisations. Increasing awareness about the advantages of sustainable practices should encourage more firms to adopt them voluntarily. Secondly, in terms of event management, it can be recommended that the organising firms should implement sustainability throughout their operational processes. Using green products within the events should help in ensuring that the event does not have any negative impact on the environment. Moreover, the event should be designed in such a manner that the use of non-renewable resources can be reduced to a minimum. The societal factor in sustainable practices is highly crucial. It takes care of the interest of the community, in which the event takes place. Thus, it is recommended that the organiser should ensure that the event is being carried out in such a manner that it does not impact the lifestyle of the people in the society. Moreover, the event organiser should also make sure that the one is actively engaged in the social welfare, to gain the support of the stakeholders. This can be achieved by locally sourcing some of the resources that can contribute to the benefit of the local economy.
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