Events Council Blog

Setting the Pace: Q&A with Guy Bigwood

Aug 31, 2017

Established in 2012, the Pacesetter Awards recognize the valuable contributions individuals are making to impact the events industry today as well as charting the course for a thriving future. The 2017 Pacesetter award winners are recognized for their contributions for innovation, sustainability and as a young professional in the events industry.

Three Pacesetter award winners will be recognized at the 2017 Hall of Leaders awards gala on October 10, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, during IMEX America. Over the course of the coming weeks, we conduct a special Q&A with each to uncover the path they took and the future direction of their career.

Read our Q&A with Dan Berger

This week: Pacesetter for Sustainability – Guy Bigwood, Group Sustainability Director, MCI Group.

Events Industry Council: Please describe the motivation behind creating best practices and solutions for the events industry as it relates to sustainability and how professionals can best embrace the idea of sustainability in their day-to-day practice.

Bigwood: Like many of us, I am lucky to spend a lot of my time traveling, visiting cities and spending time in nature. Looking at our society and at our planet, I am immensely concerned by the damage we are doing to our earth’s systems and the hardship faced by communities around the world. I strongly believe that we all have a responsibility to be part of the solution, and this is particularly relevant with the events sector.

As event professionals, we must step up, speed up and scale up our efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of our events. We must focus on reducing waste, increase recycling, reduce material usage and reduce our carbon emissions. We must increase our efforts to regenerate nature and the communities where are events are held. Not only is this a shared responsibility, it is a huge opportunity to make our events and businesses better; more innovative, efficient and engaging.

Success is a series of small steps: asking your suppliers about their sustainability program in your next RFP, including sustainability clauses in your contract, looking for sustainable signage, eliminating PVC, asking for locally sourced food and beverages, organizing a CSR action with your event participants, or buying your merchandising from a social enterprise. These are just a few examples of the hundreds of small actions we can do. Most are easy to implement, do not cost anything more and many actually save money. Together with a firm commitment, these small decisions – can create a tsunami of actions that builds a culture of care and responsibility in your business. This ultimately manifests as a competitive edge for your business, and a force of good in society.

Events Industry Council: Looking forward, what do you anticipate will be the most significant trend to shape the future direction of this industry?

Bigwood: In my work, I clearly see that environmental issues, will increasingly effect our industry. Climate change is and will increasingly effect our destinations. Slowly but surely more CVBs, event planners and suppliers will develop more strategic sustainability programs. It is and will increasingly become a requirement to entice and retain staff, to comply with legislation and to attract and maintain their client base.

Plastic usage and waste management will become the new smoking, and we will see massive initiatives to create a more circular events economy. Tomorrow’s successful business will be those that treat plastic and other “waste” as valuable resources that should not be thrown into a landfill, but upcycled into products that return a value to their business.

These environmental trends will be wrapped inside a mega event industry trend towards purposeful meetings. These mission driven events will leverage technology, event design, content programming and community impact to achieve purposeful results that leave a longer-term legacy for the organiser and local community.

Events Industry Council: Describe what Events Industry Council has meant to your career and what it is like being named a Pacesetter.

: The Events Industry Council is the upmost body in our industry. These awards are a symbol of industry excellence, and achievement. Consequently, to win this award is very touching and humbling. I also like to see this award as recognition of the commitment and effort of the MCI management team and talent. Together we have proved that with a little less conversation and a lot more action, business can act more responsibly and ethically, and that this ultimately is good for business and the soul.