4 Event Lessons from AIME 2023

Lara Owen Reporter, C&IT
4 Event Lessons from AIME 2023

Sustainability and technology are phrases constantly thrown around - but here’s what event planners can actually do to fulfil their 2023 pledges.

1. Sustainability isn’t just about being green - here’s how to promote your destination's heritage

Ensuring your event is sustainable means putting pledges in place at the very beginning, “Sustainability starts at the inception of your event, then you start to plan your event around those goals”, states Silke Calder, Event Director of AIME. However, in the age where sustainability is such a buzzword, it is easy to narrow the undertaking down to simply swapping plastic cups out for paper. 

Sustainability means to maintain an ecological balance, this not only includes the environment but society and the economy too. Guests at AIME were keen to clarify this, noting that sustainability is as much about the environment as it is about the heritage of your destination and creating economic growth through more varied job roles. Robin Mack, Executive General Manager of Commercial & Business Events Australia at Tourism Australia, noted that sustainability is “about restoring and protecting our natural environment and our culture but also growing profitability and job creation, it’s about education and advocacy and what we can do to play a part in that as a destination.” 

Mack suggested a way to promote your country's culture is through “authentic initiatives”, noting, “you can bring your destination's heritage to life - this could be having a traditional welcome to the country such as a ceremonial dance performed or enlisting a guest speaker.” For Tourism Australia, having “some amazing indigenous motivational speakers is a real privilege. It makes any event really immersive and grounded in the culture of the country.”

2. However, it’s important not to dismiss those environmental pledges and here’s where to start

On the note of being sustainably green however, Silke Calder correctly states that it starts with “baby steps”, such as “having one hundred percent cardboard stands, refilling stations and no disposable cutlery or crockery.” Along with this, you can start long term initiatives such as implementing offset programs to ensure carbon neutral events. Robin Mack noted that Tourism Australia work with the Events and Exhibition Association of Australia (EEAA) to gain a greater understanding of where their events use the most carbon: “EEAA have developed a carbon calculator and you can gage your sustainability score, allowing you to see how far you have to go on the journey to NetZero.” 

When it comes to your venue, Natalie O’Brien, Chief Executive of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, stated utilising every corner of your plot is vital, “From the rainwater that we harvest and capture on our roof, to our waste efficiency program, these are steps to achieving our target of zero organic waste to landfill by 2025.” Once the venue is on track, setting up a sustainable event starts and ends with “a very hardworking team whose only goal is to listen and deliver” according to Calder.

3. Technology isn’t just for virtual events: it’s time to get creative

A common question when doing site visits is what the AV package is. However, technology shouldn’t just be reserved for virtual events. AIME’s opening press conference encompassed some impressive projections having partnered with permanent digital art gallery, the LUME, and utilising tech for purely creative reasoning helps to construct a fully immersive experience. 

Natalie O’Brien notes, “We’re seeing the needs and expectations of our customers change as we emerge post-Covid. Investing in the latest technologies is key - across ICT, multimedia, audio visual, broadcast, production, lighting and rigging gives guests options and flexibility.” Using light projections to create a hypnotic vivarium isn’t the only way to create an immersive event. Utilising VR to transport guests to other realms, employing surround sound compositions and innovative photography initiatives are all ways to elevate your events using technology.

4. If you’re planning a long haul event use your convention bureau!

It can be difficult to know where to start when planning any event, not to mention long haul. Julia Swanson, CEO of Melbourne Convention Bureau, notes that many people forget the value a convention bureau holds, “We are always across the latest product and know what works. We know who delivers and have recommendations that planners may not have thought of.” 

Along with being able to put you in touch with the right products and venues, convention bureaus can assist in putting out RFPs, connecting clients and governments and aiding in local collaborations. Swanson notes that convention bureaus are multilingual and experts on their destinations, and as a free service, it’s a no brainer.