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Subject Area: Tourism and Hospitality
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Article citation: James Musgrave, (2011) "Is there a need for sustainable management within the events industry?", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 3 Iss: 3, pp. -
Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes (WHATT) aims to make a practical and theoretical contribution to hospitality and tourism development and we seek to do this by using a key question to focus attention on an industry issue. If you would like to contribute to our work by serving as a WHATT theme editor, do please contact me.
I should like to thank James Musgrave and the team of writers and roundtable participants for a comprehensive review of the issues relating to sustainable management in the events industry.
Managing Editor, WHATT
This theme issue poses the question: “is there a need for sustainable management within the events industry?” The events industry faces far reaching and industry-specific challenges such as supplier disruption, numerous consumer-related issues, increasing operating costs and wider impacts from economic disparity and legislative changes. In response, this issue considers the principles of sustainable management and the potential applications to events management. Part one considers the concept of sustainable principles and the interest and value it can provide the industry. Part two considers the operational issues and practical implications in adopting aspects of sustainable management. Finally, part three considers the organisational and strategic implications and benefits of managing within a sustainable framework. The issue is not intended to be a panacea for all answers, merely a forum for debate and a starting point for reflection.
The opening article “Will sustainability change the business model of the event industry?” by Fiona Pelham, provides an anchor for this issue. It sets out the value of sustainable principles and discusses the profile of sustainability within the events industry. The roundtable discussion of international industry leaders enables a policy-driven and practitioner-led assessment of key areas such as the demand for sustainable events, the key drivers of change and the short-term culture of events mapped against long-term aspects of sustainable development. Whilst assessing the value of national and international management standards, the article provides a rationale for making sustainable event management an attractive business model.
Operating in a sustainable manner can significantly shape the attractiveness of hosting an event. Events such as festivals have seen rapid increases in a relatively short-time period. Equally, more and more events have witnessed an attachment of additional stakeholder responsibilities above and beyond their originating philosophy. In the second article, “Promoting sustainable festival events tourism: a case study of Lamu Kenya”, Roselyne N. Okech accepts that events can play a major part in developing sustainable communities. Nonetheless, it is argued that as festivals have many imposed responsibilities such as tourism expansion, image destination and community engagement, they risk neglecting local resources and cultural needs. The case study presented provides a unique international consideration of these implications and an insight into management of both the interests of sustaining festivals and of promoting sustainable approaches to tourism development.
It is necessary to provide a linkage from policy to practical implications and to bridge the gap between academia and industry. Frequently, the barriers to implementing sustainable practices within the events industry seem endless. Yet, at the core of these barriers is a lack of understanding and organisational inertia. Providing a practical understanding of some of the approaches towards adherence to sustainable principles will reduce the myths and prejudice that exist. The second part of the theme issue begins with an industry-focused roundtable discussion that identifies and discusses practical methods for engaging industry professionals. Within this section, the third article, “Roundtable discussion: applying sustainability legislation to events” by Melanie Paterson and Sharon Ward, points towards the obligatory nature of legislation and application of current legislation. Aspects related to sustainable impacts are considered, namely water, waste, energy and the cultural characteristic of “the big society”. Legislation has far reaching impacts across a range of event disciplines. In applying these legislative “imperatives” to an events context, Paterson and Ward assist event practitioners with a realistic interpretation of legislative issues within the realms of sustainable principles.
Principles of sustainability within a management framework go beyond environmental concerns but public perception puts the environment at the core of this concept. Consequently, providing an approach to the management of environmental issues is fundamental to this theme issue. Article four, “Tourism ecology: towards the responsible, sustainable tourism future” by Lóránt Dávid takes a critical look at how event tourism is managed. Utilising industry case studies, the article provides a practical solution to ecological thinking towards sustainable and responsible tourism. The main case study refers to aspects of natural, social and cultural resources. Nevertheless, whilst providing a solution to these issues, there is a sense of realism between return on investment and preservation of the natural resource.
Elements of responsible tourism relate to both the natural and built environment. The built environment can incorporate principles of design and architecture that also aspire to be sustainable. The built environment provides the setting for a wide range of events and helps create memorable experiences. Nevertheless, the management of the built environment and the event space (venues), in accordance with sustainable principles is essential if event managers are to adhere to a sustainable approach. Article five, “Sustainable facilities management within event venues” by Myrsini Koukiasa provides an operational insight into implementing sustainable values within event venue management. The aim here is to provide practitioners with an insight into frameworks such as LEED and BREEAM. The article refers to energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and the reporting and evaluation of these as fundamental to sustainable venue management. Recommendations are provided by the author to further good practice within sustainable facilities and venue management.
As events are considered intermediary in nature and pulsating, the evaluation of the services and products provided at an event is paramount to attaining a sustainable reputation. The assessment of the supply chain across the product/service life cycle is often seen as an indirect responsibility of event managers. However, Sean Beer and Christian Lemmer, offer a debate and present an in-depth review of the food chain and the “greening” of such a complex chain. Article six, “A critical review of ‘green’ procurement: life cycle analysis of food products within the supply chain”, utilises six core questions to frame the article, starting with “What is green? And is the consumer interested?” The aim of the article is to present a starting point for practitioners to review their own procedures and systems in order to be confident of a “green” and sustainable outcome.
The final section of the theme issue relates to the strategic and management implications of sustainable practice. Competitive advantage is at the heart of strategic thinking and practice. The event industry is often referred to as hyper competitive and thus, the imperative of article seven aims to solidify the link between sustainable practice and creation of competitive advantage in order to ascertain the business value of sustainable principles. Article seven, “The development of competitive advantage through sustainable event management” by Stephen Henderson, provides three approaches. First, to attempt to define the term “sustainable event, second to examine the role of the public and private sector and their differing approaching to sustainability”. Finally, to establish the language of competitive advantage in the context of sustainable events and by doing so, clarify the steps to sustained and sustainable success for practitioners. Finally, the conceptual article, “Moving towards responsible events management” by James Musgrave, aims to present a quality-led process that captures the principles of sustainability. Practitioners will be able to clarify what is sustainability and responsibility within organisations, why sustainable management is important within events, and how this can transfer to a quality management paradigm. Furthermore, the aim of this article is to present the audience with practical managerial steps to implement a sustainable approach.
The theme editor would like to thank Sarah Saeed-Khan and Svend Tolson for reviewing the collection of articles and for their impeccable professionalism, objective criticism and support.
James Musgrave is a Senior Lecturer in Events Management. James Musgrave’s current research interests relate to strategic management and sustainable management principles; planning strategies and audit trails, specifically related to the events sector. He is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute of Transportation Studies, Leeds University where he is undertaking a study into sustainable transportation and change behaviour. He is Co-editor of Event Management and Sustainability alongside Razaq Raj, published by CAB International and Course Leader of MSc in Responsible Events Management at the UK Centre for Events Management, Leeds Metropolitan University.