Hybrid Green Events: How to Boost Sustainability in the Industry’s New Normal


With shelter in place restrictions in force, innovative digital conferences and meetings took off, making us wonder why we hadn’t maximized technology’s potential in our industry before. We’ve certainly used digital solutions to extend the reach of our exhibition hall presence, but as an addition rather than starting with a hybrid experience.

At the same time, mass travel was halted, triggering viral posts in social media noting clear unpolluted skies and views of mountains miles away. Sustainability has been the trade show and exhibition industry’s mission for decades. Virtual and hybrid events certainly play a big role in the industry’s sustainability efforts. And while integrating more digitalization seems to be the way forward for our industry, we should take it one step further by ensuring that the physical element is greener than before.

As you look to the new normal of exhibiting, consider the following examples for inspiration as you imagine the transition to a hybrid green event program.

Regional and Satellite Events: Safer Interaction in Multiple Locations

With physical distancing protocols still in place, small-scale, regional marketing is a viable approach for the trade show industry to start its comeback. When integrated with virtual, hybrid green events allow participants to meet face-to-face and engage in a mix of live and virtual experiences in real-time.

For a product launch, Nike Netherlands streamed the reveal to its regional offices. The new products were shipped to each site prior. Once the announcement was made, an employee revealed the products in each remote location. This way, all employees shared the excitement of the moment and physically experienced the products collectively in real-time.

By curating intimate events in local areas requiring less — or no — travel, hybrid green events are not only safer for attendees, but also have reduced environmental impact otherwise produced by larger events.

Live Streaming: Tried and Tested Technology

Long-distance flying is the biggest source of an event’s emissions. By allowing participants to attend online through webcasting or live streaming, their carbon footprint will dramatically drop for those attending hybrid green events virtually. 

While our new normal of virtual events can seem unprecedented, companies have been successfully integrating physical with virtual for years. Take the business systems software company, SAP, which held Sapphire Now back in May 2010. Sixteen thousand on-site attendees and thirty-five thousand online delegates attended the conference which simultaneously took place in seven satellite cities. Users and partners across the globe tuned in to get the latest announcements, attend technology and strategy sessions, take educational courses, and network. The event featured two TV studios that live broadcasted 400 sessions online, and an on-site screen that projected all aspects of the event which allowed attendees from both sides to view, collaborate and converse.

Aside from being more eco-friendly, given the lack of travel for 35,000 attendees, the lifespan and reach of the hybrid green event are extended as it is immortalized online for posterity.

Virtual Labs: Hands-On, But Remote

Whether you build a safe on-site live broadcast studio or film directly from your prototyping lab, virtual labs supplemented with 3D interactives offer interaction with your products and services from anywhere in the world. When you also bring the technology lab to your audience at home, your hybrid green event will reduce the power needed to run multiple meeting rooms, halls, and common areas. 

For medical congresses, virtual labs can be incorporated where attendees can join hands-on product training either onsite and online. In Singapore, EXPO & MAX Atria is a certified green venue that was designed to host hybrid events. It boasts “building-block” modular meeting rooms that can be configured to run virtual break-out meetings alongside conferences and a plug-and-play high-tech plenary hall that integrates experiential and digital components. Green implementation in a green venue will truly maximize the sustainability of any event.

Digital Goodies: Green and Measurable

The organization of an international trade show could produce up to 43 kilograms (95 pounds) of waste per participant. A significant portion of waste comes from sources that could be easily avoided. Consider symbolic gifts such as a donation for an ecological cause instead of more pens and notepads that may be unnecessary.

E-goodies like digital books or vouchers for online and onsite participants also prevent material waste. At the hybrid event TechyStalk Live, sponsored virtual goodie bags were provided through the event app. This lessened the environmental impact of the event and increased attendance with improved visibility for the sponsors than they would have otherwise gained.

Hybrid green events provide a great opportunity for any organization to further its sustainability mission. Carbon footprint is greatly reduced without completely eliminating true human connection only physical events can deliver. Take this opportunity to reimagine a greener new normal for the future of exhibiting. 

For more about how to incorporate greener solutions into your live event program, read more about sustainability at trade shows here

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