Sustainable event planning: Respecting residents and the environment in destinations
Home » Sustainable event planning: Respecting residents and the environment in destinations
We’re in the peak of summer, and finally, big open-air events are back. And, they’re attracting unprecedented numbers.
Thousands of people are travelling from all corners of the world to Europe to attend all types of events, ranging music, culture, theatre, food and drink, sports.
For instance, Italy is gearing up to host up to 10 million event participants from 1 July to 30 September 2023, expected to attend over 4000 grand-scale events (Source: PredictHQ on D / AI Destinations).
Mid-July and mid-August are the periods that experience the highest levels of attendees.
It’s worth noting that if we also count the numerous smaller-scale events and village festivals held yearly all around the country, the numbers above could soar substantially.
(Event calendar preview – D / AI Destinations)
Major events can be a hit or miss for a tourist destination.
On the one hand, they can draw visitors to any city or region, positively impacting the overall regional economy and the businesses within it such as hotels, restaurants, and small businesses.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2023 is a perfect example of this, attracting people from around the globe to Northern UK and Wales, and acting as a driving force for increased exposure and tourism appeal.
However, on the other hand, events have the potential to disrupt the local community and impact the ecological balance of the area where they take place.
Sustainable event management is much easier when concerts and events take place in stadiums or expos. It becomes far more complicated when it comes to events being held in outdoor venues, such as city squares, in the vicinity of monuments, or in fragile natural environments.
A paradigm shift in concert experiences: The case of Jovanotti and Coldplay
In 2022, the Italian artist Jovanotti revolutionised his concert concept throughout Italy, turning them into grand beach parties known as “Jova Beach Party.” These massive events attracted visitors from around the globe to gather under the night sky and dance to the timeless tunes of the renowned singer.
Those who took part in the event say it was a truly magical and one-of-a-kind experience.
However, residents and environmentalists weren’t as happy with these events, denouncing the invasive and potentially damaging nature of these concerts for the precious ecosystems in which they are held.
The primary casualties of the Jova Beach Parties were in fact the flora and fauna within the event site. In some locations, trees, hedges, and sand dunes had to be cut down to make room for the event’s colossal infrastructure, ruining places where protected species nest and hunt.
Not to mention the damage to the coastline in an already precarious situation.
In Italy, in fact, 40 million square metres of sandy coastline have disappeared in the last 50 years, and by 2050 most of the country’s beaches could disappear due to erosion (source: RAI).
However, not all events have a downside to them. Some have the potential to be highly beneficial and contribute positively across various aspects — highlighting a change in the mindset of both organisers and participants, moving further towards sustainable event planning.
The thought that a large-scale event could have a positive environmental impact and effectively raise awareness among its audience was once considered utopian. However, this idealistic concept is gradually transforming into a tangible reality.
Coldplay’s concerts are the perfect example of this. In 2023, the British band overhauled completely the traditional notion of a concert as a large-scale gathering, often linked with excessive waste and carbon dioxide emissions.
Instead, their Music of the Spheres World Tour concerts have become synonymous with sustainable events.
In fact, the band operates the entire production of the show, including sound, lights, and lasers, using an electric battery system. This innovative approach enables them to utilise 100% renewable energy in the most optimal and efficient manner.
The band’s latest tour resulted in a significant decrease of 47% in CO2 emissions compared to their previous tour. Additionally, the energy generated by concert attendees and the music itself has been harnessed to support sustainable initiatives, as detailed on the band’s official website.
“You have helped charge the show batteries on the power bikes and kinetic dance floors; travelled to shows by foot, bicycle or public transport; used the recycling bins; ride-shared; brought refillable water bottles; returned the LED wristbands after the show. And just by coming you have had a tree planted, and helped a range of environmental organisations like The Ocean Cleanup and ClientEarth (a team of lawyers who defend the environment).”
It’s not a lack of resources or technology that hinders efficient event management for both tourists and locals. Rather, it’s often the absence of the right mindset, both among private individuals and institutions, who are already grappling with the significant challenges brought about by overtourism.
Undoubtedly, the integration of sustainability into event management is paramount. This ensures that events not only fulfil visitors’ expectations but also safeguard the well-being of local communities and address environmental and cultural considerations.
Both at the EU and international levels, regulations are progressively aligning with this approach to sustainable event planning, as event participants place greater emphasis on such practices.
How to manage events better with data
Efficiently managing events can bring significant advantages to tourist destinations and local entities, including:
Enhanced positive sentiment among event participants, resulting in favourable reviews and an improved destination image at national and global levels, ultimately bolstering overall reputation
Increased quality of life and positive sentiment among residents, who appreciate the positive impact of these events on the local economy
Fostered sense of belonging within the local community
Boosted job opportunities and sales for local businesses, including restaurants, hotels, and retail establishments
Access to funding from public and private entities for hosting events, as well as for improving services, infrastructure, and marketing activities (e.g., EU funds, partnerships, sponsorships)
So, how can events be effectively managed to maximise their competitive advantage?
And how can destinations ensure an exceptional experience for participants while preserving the environment and local quality of life?
Data emerges as a potential game-changer in destination event management.
Precise analysis of anticipated attendance and the spatial and temporal impact of events enables organisers to make better preparations for attendees and prevent disruptions for local residents.
THE FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA AND THE BARCOLANA
The Italian region of FVG uses data analysis to better monitor and manage one of the biggest annual events: the Barcolana sailing regatta. Read the customer story!
Optimising services and logistics by analysing the spatial distribution of events and expected attendance
Spatial distribution, together with the number of expected attendees, can provide a lot of valuable information to better prepare destinations for any sustainable event.
With a granular analysis of events, destination managers can answer several questions at both the macro- and micro-organisation level, such as:
Are there specific areas with a higher concentration of events that require better flow management and attention?
Can we enhance services in these areas to assist visitors in finding the event location, parking, and dining options?
How can we improve signposting to events for better navigation?
In case the event location is in a traffic-restricted area with limited hotel options, can we facilitate visitor movement through shuttles, buses, or trains from nearby locations?
Are there enough information points in the area to provide directions to arriving attendees?
Are there any protected or at-risk areas that might be vulnerable to damage from the event and its participants? How can we ensure the security of these areas?
How can we promote the reduction of plastic usage and the avoidance of polluting objects during the event?
For instance, this a preview of the distribution of major events scheduled in certain central London areas between 1 and 31 August 2023:
(Central London events, 1-31 August 2023 – Source: D / AI Destinations)
Apart from examining city macro-areas, it’s also essential to delve into specific details to identify the local concentrations of events.
(Central London Events – Camden Town, 1-31 August 2023 – Source: D / AI Destinations)
By analysing expected attendance for each event and day, we can understand how people will move, use transportation, and access parking facilities.
This information is crucial for enhancing the experience of visitors and residents alike, helping reduce pressure on local residents and improve event management, and backing decision-making about topics such as:
Can we implement services to minimise the impact on local residents during events?
Should we use press, radio, or text messages to inform local residents about events with high attendance?
Is it possible to reserve parking areas exclusively for residents or arrange alternative parking outside the city with shuttle services?
Can we enhance street cleaning and consider traffic closures during specific times of the day and evening?
How can we safeguard green spaces, especially those frequently used by vulnerable groups such as the elderly and children?
Residing in areas extensively utilised for events, like stadiums, theatres, or fairgrounds, can lead to significant resident frustration and dissatisfaction.
However, with meticulous data analysis and the implementation of specific, proactive measures, events can be transformed into positive experiences for the residents as well.
THE IMPACT OF THE TORINO OLYMPICS ON PIEDMONT
The 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin had a profound impact on tourism in Piedmont, completely transforming its landscape. Following this major sporting event, tourism arrivals continued to surge, experiencing a remarkable increase of over 43% within a decade, while overnight stays rose by more than 23%.
In this new era, data and reputation analysis have emerged as Piedmont’s powerful tools to bolster its reputation and optimise tourism services.
Read the customer story.
Leveraging major events for territorial marketing: the case of London
Comprehensive information about destination events can serve as a valuable catalyst for destination marketing endeavours.
For instance, the City of London could leverage the iconic image of Camden Town and its diverse array of events to conduct promotional campaigns, entice more visitors, and support local businesses in increasing sales.
To gain a practical understanding of the actions a destination marketer can undertake, we used our destination management platform, D / AI Destinations, to analyse the upcoming events in Camden Town, central London.
By understanding which types of events draw the most significant number of participants, we can more accurately profile the visitors who will be present in town on specific dates and weekends.
For instance, in the example below, we present the breakdown of events and the anticipated number of participants from 1 to 31 August in Camden Town:
(Top event categories – D / AI Destinations)
Concerts are undoubtedly the highlight of Camden Town: they make up 70% of the organised events, expected to attract over 90,000 people, which is more than 70% of the total expected attendance.
Community events, though less frequent, hold considerable significance, attracting a substantial attendance of over 27,000 people.
Using D / AI Destinations, we can analyse the expected attendance for each individual event on any given day in the calendar.
Having this data on hand, the destination manager can effectively profile visitors for specific dates and identify the most popular events.
With this valuable information, various marketing activities can be planned, including:
Launching social promotions that highlight upcoming attractive events to draw potential visitors.
Creating compelling content and insights on the destination website to increase traffic and attract newsletter subscribers.
Promoting tourist packages associated with popular events.
Implementing geolocalized mobile campaigns to advertise relevant activities like restaurants, hotels, and shops to the incoming public.
Initiating photo competitions via social media centred around specific events to enhance engagement.
As observed, events possess the remarkable potential to attract attention, people, and economic resources to a territory. However, this can only be achieved through well-organised, efficient, and forward-thinking management to ensure sustainable event planning.
Embracing a data-driven approach, where decisions are rooted in data, ensures wise choices that prioritise the well-being of visitors, residents, and the preservation of the area’s invaluable resources.
Data Appeal assists tourist destinations in enhancing their ability to predict and regulate visitor flows, manage events, and uphold reputation, all while promoting sustainability and inclusivity