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We need to do better

Julia Charles-Wiginton discusses the UK’s failure in representing sustainable venues.


A sustainable venue is key to creating a sustainable event, but finding one is hard because the UK venue-finding sites do not cater for this growing demand. We have a multitude of venue-finding sites, some commercial, some representing venue consortiums, and many showcasing different destinations, but not a single one will tell you which venues are sustainable, and quite frankly we need to do better.

Over in Berlin, they have got it spot on. The Visit Berlin website puts the UK venue-finding sites to shame in my view. Like every destination portal, it offers a search engine with all the usual criteria from which to choose to narrow down a search, but unlike other portals they list the sustainability credentials of each of their venues and display this on the first page.

Each venue has been rated according to where they are in their sustainability journey and given a ‘leaf rating’. Some have one leaf, others have quite a few, and some have none (they don’t alienate the venues that have not implemented any sustainable initiatives yet). Having the leaves on the initial venue photograph gives an organiser a clear and easy way to rank venues. The site also ranks suppliers, allowing you to see at a glance which caterers have considered their impact. Why isn’t anyone doing this on the UK sites?  

A quick look at a few of the most popular UK venue-finding sites shows me that they flag up benefits such as wheelchair access, car parking and number of bedrooms, but if you are an international client looking to book an event in the UK, you will be sorely disappointed by the lack of foresight.

Many of them are aware that they need to do something about sustainability. They may have a downloadable PDF with a sustainability kit or a check list, and while I applaud that they are actually doing something, it would be far more useful to include a venue’s sustainability efforts.

According to the’s Sustainable Travel Report, 55% of consumers are determined to find sustainable travel choices, but 37% don’t know how to. Those figures could be transferable to business events because many organisers still don’t know where to start. 

A venue’s sustainability credentials are important, and they will only continue to increase in importance. We need our venue-finding sites to step up and improve. I want to see sustainability rank alongside other essential considerations such as accessibility, and I ask the venue-finding sites to act now because you are being left behind and put to shame by our more forward-thinking European neighbours.