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Sustainability in central Europe's MICE sector: key trends and insights
min read
Nov 27 ― 2023
Marta Mills
Senior Project Manager | Sustainable Tourism
The MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) sector in central Europe is changing fast, with an increased focus on social and environmental sustainability, and a growing role of the ESG (environmental, social and governance considerations) in planning, running and reporting events. Last week, a significant event was held in Warsaw, Poland: the Meeting Industry Sustainability Forum MISF 2023, focussing on the ESG in Congress and Business Travel.
About the forum

TOPOSOPHY’s Marta Mills delivered a keynote on the response to the climate emergency by the European hospitality sector by presenting the "Net Zero Hospitality Roadmap" report TOPOSOPHY developed in September 2023 for HOTREC. She also participated in the Accommodation Panel that discussed best sustainable accommodation practices for EU hotels and conference venues. Lively and interactive discussions and panels (Destinations, Accommodation, Greenwashing, Programmes and Sustainability Mobility) were held throughout the day, focussing on the key challenges and opportunities from sustainability and the transition to Net Zero for the MICE and hospitality sectors in Poland and its European neighbours.  

Here are TOPSOPHY’s Five Sustainability Trends in the MICE sector in central Europe and Five Takeaways from MISF2023.

Five Key Trends in MICE sustainability in Poland and the neighbouring region: 

  1. Growth in destination attractiveness due to sustainable travel options: there is a growing number of requests for meetings and events in Poland from Germany and its neighbours as the delegates can easily travel to Poland by train.  More sustainable transport options are also promoted to delegates who already are at the destination.
  2. Growth in sustainable activities: conference and incentives organisers and planners design more socially and environmentally sustainable trips and activities for delegates (that also include better animal welfare). The panelists stressed that sustainability elements in itineraries for the incentive trips is a must (e.g. taking delegates on a local tour, cleaning the beach, planting trees). Providing options for pre- and post-trip donations to support local producers or schools seem very popular amongst the delegates. 
  3. Growth in discounts for bleisure delegates: event organisers and service providers in destinations offer discounts to allow for longer stays as significantly more clients request to stay longer and combine business travel with leisure, particularly when they travel with a partner/family.
  4. Growth in awareness about food waste: event organisers and hotels increasingly reduce the amount of food provided for events to reduce food waste. They also try to be more flexible with the menu and adjust it to offer more quality over quantity (e.g. offering less courses "to taste the best not the most") 
  5. Growth in awareness about waste: apart from visible efforts to eliminate plastic, scanning/photographing conference badges rather than exchanging paper business cards is a new trend, particularly noticeable within the MICE community where exchanging business cards often comes before a handshake. Recycling badges is becoming a standard practice.  

Five Key Takeaways from TOPOSOPHY’s keynote and panel discussions: 

  1. A variety of tools, methodologies and collaborative initiatives already exist to support hospitality and MICE sector businesses on their sustainability and net zero journey. However, there is still a lot of confusion and uncertainty, particularly when it comes to measuring carbon footprint, and businesses (particularly the SMEs) need assistance to navigate this space and make use of the available resources
  2. Collaboration of the whole supply chain is key to an efficient and successful transition. Additionally, cooperation and partnerships within the sector and BEYOND is essential for protecting biodiversity and supporting local communities.
  3. Not much will change without education and growing awareness about the threats and opportunities from green transition. Networking and sharing best practices are invaluable too. 
  4. Although there is a growing customer awareness of environmental and social sustainability, hotels and conference venues need to do more to encourage customers to make more responsible choices. They also have the responsibility to communicate more effectively that the changes are a result of their environmental policy rather than cost savings (for example when small toiletries are replaced by dispensers) 
  5. Government support is essential– in terms of legislation, regulations, tax breaks and incentives, regional and national support programmes -  for a smooth transition to net zero emissions.

And, above all, the main thing is to get started now! The increasing legislative requirements and the market pressures mean businesses that don’t act now, will simply be out of business in not a distant future. Contact TOPOSOPHY if you need support in sustainability/net zero strategy and climate action plans for your hotel, conference venue, or a destination as a whole.

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