How does it feel carrying around a heavy binder with all your event notes and checklist while switching from car to meeting to location to supplier? Not very convenient, does it? I hope you already found the magic in digital planning tools and made the switch from slow paper-based organization chaos to efficient and dynamic digital event planning.
And if you didn’t, may I ask why? Are you fearing we’ll be replaced or outsourced and lose the human touch by making use of these wonderful tools? Let me tell you, this won’t be the case. Our world is becoming more digital every day, and the only reason you might be replaced one day is if you don’t start embracing the opportunity that comes with digitalization. And if you haven’t yet, continue reading to understand how this change will help you organize more sustainable events.
Ok, talking about sustainability, replacing paper with electricity-consuming tools will not get you to zero environmental impact. However, renewable energies from wind, water, and solar are easily available instead of cutting down a tree which takes years to grow back. Which makes electricity more favorable than paper production.
Make Your Invitation Process Digital
While invitation cards to your next conference may look beautiful, who actually keeps them? The same goes for tickets or greeting cards during the year. While they are a keeper in the private, social world (weddings, festivals), we definitely don’t need them for corporate events anymore. So start making your invitation process digital:
Send out beautifully designed emails (canva is a great platform for creating them) or attach the invitation as a PDF.
Forget RSVP return cards and ask people to reply via email, call, or sign up online.
Use online systems for bigger events to automatically create registration lists.
Filter invited and signed up guests and send reminders and updates easily.
Create an event app or landing page to register and share essential information and news.
Memos, sticky notes, and letters will only make your life more complicated, especially in the event industry where changes are preprogrammed. How often do you want to reprint the agenda or how long do you want to wait to print it last-minute? Money and nerves you can easily save by having an online agenda instead of printed.
Make use of your big social network, spread the word online, and get immediate RSVP. You can even use images of your previous flyers or postcards to share them, and save on unnecessary printing costs. And if you fear not to reach the business contacts that still work offline: raise additional awareness by advertising on local radio and television.
Create an Online Community around Your Conference
Having an event page, app or email subscription for your participants is not only a great step towards going paperless, but also makes their life so much easier. Sharing information upfront via these channels is much greener and helps them to stay up-to-date and organized. They simply can’t lose any printed information and know where to find it anytime, even after official office hours.
Schedules, maps, attendee lists, product information, polls, etc. – everything around your event finds its place on these platforms. It does not only help you during the planning process to gather information, but attendees can also use it to coordinate carpools or exchange on topics in different community boards. Fill your app with community space for thoughts, comments, and questions. Sell promotional spots for videos and graphics of your exhibitors or use them yourself. Give them a sneak peek by showing backstage footage or a live stream to your event production. Let them interact with you and your event already before it even started and get them excited! And this excitement can be shared easily in their social channels, which gives your event an even larger audience to attract.
The only thing you have to do is provide them with great, engaging content and let them hit the ‘share’ button. Can paper be shared as fast as that?
How to Reduce Paper On Site
Eliminating printed brochures doesn’t mean cutting on product information or learning material. But how can you avoid printing all those flyers and folders? Email important material to your attendees upfront, upload them on your event platform or landing page, or display them on screens for everyone to see instead of distributing individual copies that end up in the trash in a matter of hours. Hanging up maps and programs at the venue for guidance will help your attendees just as well. And if there really is something that they require physically: offer to send it to them afterwards or provide a download platform. Like this, you can be sure material is only handed to those who really want it, and nothing is produced for waste.
Additionally, I’d like to remind you of the wonderful relief for every event manager when suddenly last minute changes aren’t so scary anymore. No big deal! Instead of reprinting thousands of programs because of a new speaker or schedule change, just log in, make the change and hit ‘save’. Or adapt the screen slide and exchange it. And the new information is available to your attendees immediately. Or even better: you can adapt slides and digital maps intentionally to make new information only available at a later point of the meeting, keep your participants attentive to surprises, and engage them with the event on a constant basis.
As you can see, having your information available digitally is so convenient for everybody. Attendees can locate it easily on your website, in the event app, or via your social channels. Let them share your event and possible updates with their peers, and connect with other participants upfront, regardless of their location. Reduce your email flood of attendees asking for event details over and over again and direct them to your main event platform. No more losing invitations and schedules in the paper chaos on their desks because the only device they need to access your information is one they will hardly ever lose, their smartphones.
Be a role model by introducing paperless working to their lives and show them how to do better, stress-free, and so much more sustainably.
With best wishes from a paperless office!