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IMEX America Show Theme: Sustainability Q&A with Gayle Murphy

Kaitlyn Tatulli |

event professionals learning how to incorporate sustainability into their next meeting or event at IMEX AmericaIMEX America has released its show themes for the upcoming exhibition in September 2019, which allow attendees to explore more deeply a particularly important industry trend. This year, the annual session talking points will center on four themes: imagination, experiential, CSR and sustainability, wellness, and event tech.

We sat down with Gayle Murphy, CEO of Global Green Events Ltd, a sustainability consultancy that focuses on bringing the sustainable event industry together, to learn more about IMEX America sustainability theme and about Gayle's sessions, “Implementing Sustainability in Umbrella Organizations and Associations” and “Meet the Expert in Sustainability.”

Check out the Q&A with Gayle to learn what this IMEX theme means for you.

Sustainability Interview with Gayle Murphy

Gayle Murphy, CEO of Global Green Events Ltd

Q: What is your experience with sustainability, specifically in the events industry?

I've been in the international event industry, mainly MICE, for around 20 years. After about 10 years, I became very frustrated as an event organizer with the industry’s negative impacts, and how even as an organizer who cared, how hard it was for me to carry out initiatives on top of my daily workload. So, I decided to create a company, Global Green Events, where we would be the go-to sustainability consultancy and management team to support other event organizers.

I started working with some of the NGO’s and event organizers that I'd already known, and it basically grew from there. We started out doing sustainability for small events and because of our collective vision, we now work on creating sustainability policies or strategies for large umbrella organizations, government entities, DMCs, corporate clients, rather than individual event organizers, because then we can affect more change. However, we do still offer one-on-one consultancy, training, and on-site management for individual event organizers with our international team and partners. Our mission is to empower and inspire people to make positive change through the platform of sustainable events.

Currently, we are working on a platform, a sustainable event management hub for meeting and event professionals to diminish the saturation of the industry and bring everyone together in one place. Organizers and event managers can go on this platform and receive sustainability training, find sustainability tools, resources, certifications, calculate their event’s C02e using the Global Green Events Impact Savings Calculator, showcase their event, browse sustainable suppliers, and more. Basically, this platform is bringing all the key players in sustainable event management together so anyone who from any space that wants to find a resource on sustainability can, and highlight all the amazing organizations that are leading this industry into a sustainable future.


Q: Why do you think sustainability is important for people in the meetings and events industry? How can planners incorporate sustainability into their next meeting or event?

I think sustainability is particularly important for meeting and event planners because right now, we need to come together as an industry to create a long-term future for the industry. In a world where there are limited resources and very much a magnifying glass on actions and behaviors, especially of corporate companies, the clients are calling for meeting and event planners to integrate sustainability (using the three key pillars—environmental; social, and economical) in event proposals. They are wanting to create meetings, events, and conferences in a way that have a lesser environmental and social impact, while still being economically viable. 

There are multiple different industry standards and sustainability methodologies to guide your event. Examples are the ISO 20121, the Meet4Impact, the SMPP, the Sustainability RoadMap, the SEA network, and of course our "Successful Sustainability" online source and how-to documents available on the Global Green Events website. So, there's different ways and vehicles for event planners to get to a sustainable event. Choose one that suits you best. There are also other options if you are a venue or destination such as the GDS Index

By integrating sustainability into your meetings and events, planners can create a net positive experience for their clients, which is what Global Green Events is all about. We’re about creating the opportunity for clients to contribute through sustainability in a net positive way so that the event is run considering the triple bottom line, reduces the resources it uses, and ensures all it does use is dealt with in a circular way, considers social and environmental impacts, can empower and inspire individuals to step into their power, can educate, teach others new skills, and promotes a better way of being, with the planet, and with each other. All while being long term economically sustainable, 

Ensuring that the industry is really moving forward in a way that's sustainable long-term, and supported, and encouraged by corporate clients, and individual clients is important. This is done by assuring them that sustainability is on our agenda and we can meet their needs. 


Q: How can planners use technology to promote and improve sustainability at their events?

Global Green Events is to release an app within the next few weeks that's downloadable for Apple and Android devices. This app will give users access to all kinds of “how-to” sustainability docs, online courses, and access to a sustainability suppliers list. There's also quite a lot of other technology that promotes sustainability in the events industry. You can use paperless registration systems, paperless menu providers, like the giant iPads, and the mobile event apps so you don’t have to print out the speaker programs, schedules, and everything else. There is a whole bunch of new technology out there for things such as carpet recycling etc, but digital solutions mainly focus around using event management software to go paperless or register attendees sustainability at their events.


Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your IMEX America sessions, “Implementing Sustainability in Umbrella Organizations and Associations” and “Meet the Expert in Sustainability”? What are the key takeaways?

For my session, “Implementing Sustainability in Umbrella Organizations and Associations,” I'm going to be discussing everything from my Successful Sustainability Framework, to creating a strategy, policy, and guidelines for umbrella organizations, to the personal skills you need to do it successfully. Umbrella organizations are those dealing with multiple event organizers in different places, different cultures, and different sectors. We’ll be dealing with the methodology about how to choose whether it's policy, strategy, or guidelines, and then also touching on the soft skills that are needed to bring those people together, to create a cohesive way forward. My biggest learnings for this session is how to bring people together from different walks of life, create a vision for sustainability, and put it into a core strategy or policy to help people move forward together. I'm very excited to say that Jane Scaletta will be co-hosting this workshop, discussing her experiences working with the Sustainability Road Map and SITE Florida and the Caribbean, as well as Sustainability within her own company, Dolfin Destinations.  

For “Meeting the Expert” attendees can book 20-minute one-on-one meetings with me. I’d encourage people who have sustainability questions or if they are struggling with something related to sustainability in their events, they can come, and I can give them my advice. Also, if they are looking for sustainability contacts and don’t know which way to turn or which methodology, I’m happy to help guide them.

The whole point of implementing a sustainability strategy is having people engage in and being successful. There's no point in having a sustainability strategy or a policy if no one cares or engages in the initiatives themselves. My buzz is all about engagement, empowerment, inspiration, getting people to really buy into the sustainability policy or strategy, the initiatives, to be supportive, to engage and to feel great about it.


Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

If people want to be featured on our website please get in touch with me. Also, if you’re a supplier and want to be featured in the supplier system we are building, get in touch with me. Our approach, at Global Green Events, is very collaborative. We really just want to bring as much value as we possibly can to the meeting and event industry.

Looking for the top-rate things to do and see while in Vegas? Check out our guide to the top four things to do at IMEX America and the top seven things to do in and around Las Vegas.


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This Post was Written by Kaitlyn Tatulli

Kaitlyn Tatulli is a graduate from Fairfield University with majors in Digital Journalism and Psychology and minors in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Computer Science. Currently, she is receiving her MFA from Fairfield University. Kaitlyn...

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