Waste paper bin and gone

Richard John is not in ‘forgiving’ mood this month

I’m proud that my local council has the best recycling rates in the country, and I certainly do my bit. Each Monday it’s almost all white bags outside the house – that’s the stuff which will be recycled – and just one half-filled black bag a fortnight for landfill.

Mrs J is pretty good, too, although she still has a habit of pressing the ‘print’ button on the computer. When we travel, she still feels a paper ticket is necessary as a back-up, ‘just in case’.

But here in 2016 there’s no reason why any part of your meeting shouldn’t be ditching paper. So let’s hear your excuses.

Your audience may not be ready? Well, I bet they are, and maybe you should give them a choice. Gently forcing customers to adapt is not a bad thing; just make sure they can see the benefits. And even Ryanair will let you reprint a ticket at the airport (for a fee!) Your delegates come to your events armed with tablets and smartphones; there’s no real excuse.

Of course, you do need to plan these things in advance, and check things such as system and browser compatibility. Who knows, one of your delegates might still be using a Blackberry!

Your sponsors may not be ready. Of course, there’s money to be made with the traditional conference detritus of tote bags, pens and pads. But you’ll find other ways for them to leverage brand messages and you to leverage their budgets into your bank account. Start thinking – well in advance.

Your stakeholders may not be ready. No doubt many of the wise old fossils on your Steering Group are still having orgasms at the sight of a memory stick. But we’ve moved on; an app is the way ahead, with immediate updates and sophisticated search available, and a host of options that your sponsors would love.

Your colleagues may not be ready. For all the conversations about the paperless environment, there will still be those who feel they are the exception. Maybe it’s the beautiful conference binder, with glossy – and expensive – spot colours. Maybe it’s the Speakers, who can’t live without the feedback sheet being left on the table.

However, you have to be consistent, and apply a degree of ruthlessness. Use the two tactics of ISO20121 and clearly-identified cost savings (including environmental costs) to make your case.

Your exhibitors may not be ready and they can sure make a big difference to your bottom line, so banning the ubiquitous brochures and freebies may cause some upset, and it only takes one dissenting voice. So, think about getting them to agree not to hand out anything tangible. Good luck with that.

I’m betting you agree with my sentiments, but are already seeing the challenges and battles that lie ahead. So I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes; “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Over to you.

Emily King

Emily King

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Emily King

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