Canalys Events blog: Out of crisis comes opportunity – it’s time to take sustainability seriously

Gemma Edwards | Wednesday, April 01 2020

While many companies are taking small steps toward sustainability, frequent travel, whether to do meetings or events, is still a necessity for many. It’s difficult to replace meeting customers, partners and colleagues face to face with a virtual solution. But will the coronavirus situation force us all to reevaluate (for the better) how much of our travel is essential, and how much is an overhang from outdated notions of business?

Travel will still be a necessity for many industries, but coronavirus presents an opportunity to take advantage of travel restrictions and shift cultural frameworks for the future. Companies cancelling or postponing events will likely realize that virtual interaction is a more sustainable, cheaper and effective way to communicate. Meetings that should have been in person will still be successful. Events turned virtual will work. There is an opportunity here to introduce new travel policies worldwide. Perhaps distance-based rotas will be introduced to limit air travel? Or rewards given to employees who choose to travel green? The travel industry is under enormous pressure, but maybe its way back into business will be in a sustainable way? It could be a great marketing opportunity for airlines to say that they have reduced their CO2 emissions or that all their flights are categorized as green. I wonder if we will be able to build on their momentum?

While frequent travel is not the only mark against many companies’ carbon footprints, cutting down and adopting alternatives will certainly be important to attract the next generation into the industry. Collins word of the year in 2019 was climate strike. It’s no surprise that younger generations and their active awareness of climate change will have an impact on corporate responsibility. They will certainly have higher expectations than previous generations (even millennials).  Jobseekers will become more interested in mitigating emissions and climate change, and the lure of international travel will be less attractive in comparison to initiatives to reduce carbon footprints.  

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