MCI: Inspiring Events

November 1, 2018


Sustainable events - an approach that benefits everybody


The MCI Group have long held the belief that sustainability can be a part of any businesses’ manifesto and that profit does not have to be the first casualty. It is the very expectation that people, the planet and profit can peacefully coexist that has set this groundbreaking company apart from its counterparts and quite possibly the reason it seems to thrive in all of its many incarnations around the world.


As MCI CEO, Sébastien Tondeur explains: “Sustainability is now part of our business strategy, our client value proposition and our daily operations…. We can help organisations to foster behavioural change, inspire action and enhance sustainability performance.”


The MCI Group is an events company, but with a difference. They offer more than a conference room and a whiteboard - they offer truly memorable and innovative events that always take attendees somewhere new and inspiring. The type of meetings and events that become brand-defining moments within the organisation. Their events are the kind that people talk about.


With environmental protection at the forefront of their philosophy, MCI is first and foremost a sustainable events company. One that works with their client to achieve their triple strategy of People, Planet and Profit. One that shares their knowledge as sustainability leaders in their industry with the people they work with, the people they work for and the people who work for them.








Sustainable goals


Back in 2015, the UN unveiled their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); a collection of 17 global goals that are better known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Each goal has a list of separate targets which cover most economic and social issues in order to help make the world a better place.


MCI has mapped their business against these 17 goals and has identified 9 key areas where they feel they can make a real difference. These are good health and wellbeing; gender equality; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; and climate action.


The company has the following core beliefs that underpin everything they do:


  • Clients and talent are inspired to live a healthier and more sustainable life both at work and at the events they organise

  • All events and operations are gender-balanced in terms of speakers and workers

  • Offices spaces use modern energy options that are reliable and promote the use of renewables

  • They aim to be a great place to work and to ensure that the supply chain supports decent ethical labour values

  • They aim to reduce environmental footprints and increase social impact

  • They want to ensure equal opportunities regardless of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, orientation, religion or economic status

  • They work to support cities and local governments to help improve their infrastructures for more sustainable events

  • They actively engage with clients on how to reduce waste and reduce unnecessary consumption

  • Their ultimate aim is to go climate neutral


These commitments are furthered by the MCI Sustainability Approach - 6 key steps that guide how the company operates on a daily basis and include recognition, leadership, objectives, governance, integration and engagement. The company has based this approach on the International Standard for Sustainability Management Systems for the Events Industry.




Sustainability - The MCI way


These all sound great, but the question is: how does this approach achieve their goal of upholding a steadfast balance between People, Planet and Profit?


MCI has two main objectives when it comes to their business. They want to run amazing events that will improve their clients' business and their own, with a view towards remaining profitable and meeting budgetary constraints. But equally, they want to set an example of how things can be done and demonstrate how sustainability doesn’t have to be an afterthought - but can become a core part of the thinking behind the company's strategy and ethos.


They believe that by focusing on the sustainability aspect of their company and embedding it in every part of their DNA; they and their clients automatically stand to gain from the multitude of benefits that sustainability can bring to businesses.


MCI do this by applying a clear set of principles and actions that always ensure an event is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable:


  • Innovate: by working with suitable partners and suppliers that utilise the latest technology and know-how, MCI has been able to incorporate mobile apps and other design innovations to rethink how events are managed.

  • Reduce: with careful management of resources including food, waste, water, company giveaways and bags, and responsible transport and recycling, MCI is able to facilitate reductions in both overheads and carbon footprint.

  • Choose: MCI works hard to find the best suppliers and choose FSC certified products, energy efficient appliances, recycled goods and local and organic produce wherever they can.

  • Eliminate: MCI avoid single-use items, plastic water bottles, chemicals and disposables, while also ensuring their events are child labour, discrimination and corruption free.

  • Help: MCI work with local communities, education development projects and offer their time, materials and resources to help build good infrastructure. They are also committed to offsetting GHG emissions and reporting on their impact findings.


MCI don’t just live by these principles themselves, they actively encourage their clients to adopt a similar approach within their own organisations. The event may last a week, a weekend or even a single day - but the idea is that positive changes within the organisation could last for a lifetime.





Sustainable events are better events


Resource use is the most costly part of any event. This includes people resources, energy, transport, food and equipment. Any event organiser will be well aware that logistics are a tricky issue and that compromises always seem to need to be made. These compromises can result from poor planning and often lead to budgetary issues and are almost never great for sustainability aims and objectives.


When you know that saving resources and using them wisely is a part of your company ethos, you are automatically improving efficiency and ensuring better quality. The improvement in the bottom line is the icing on the cake. This type of sustainability is easy to measure and obvious as soon as you look at your invoices - yes, you've hit the holy grail: you've combined people, planet and profit successfully.


Choosing the right event management company is the key to this success.


Sustainable events are brand-enhancing events


Now we turn to the less tangible benefits and advantages of running a sustainable event. Namely, brand image. Most organisations will agree that they want to be seen to be doing the right thing and many have a page or two devoted to sustainability already on their websites. But does this nod towards the environment really make that much difference to how they run things? Certainly not, and the general consumer is intelligent enough to recognise that. People like to see action, not just sweet talk. A huge event that is clearly run on the principles of far-reaching sustainability will go a long way in convincing people of the brand's commitment to greenwash-free environmental protection and have an enormous impact on brand equity. That's why the MCI approach reflects so well on the organisations who use their services - it's a win-win situation for everybody.


This holistic long-view approach is sometimes hard for organisations to take on board. Sustainability is often still seen as a “nice to have” but easily cast aside in the interests of money-saving and ultimately, profit. But for those with more vision and a greater understanding of what brings long-term success, it is important to note how sustainability can be seen as a leveraging tool for the brand. Yes, it requires patience and forethought to see the long-term effects of positioning a company as a sustainable one, but brand perception is becoming more important than ever and those organisations that fail to take that leap may find they have lost the goodwill of their customers in the not-too-distant future.




Communication is key


Having sustainability at the core of any business is an admirable thing and ensuring that it remains at the heart of decision making and operations is vital for the future of our planet. However, if a company fails to communicate this to their workforce, suppliers and clients, much of the effect can be lost and a lot of the main benefits can fail to materialise.


MCI works closely with their clients to ensure that an effective sustainability message is communicated via a careful and targeted marketing approach. This can include running events that are wholly marketed as “sustainable events” and using the event itself to underpin the philosophy.


Sustainability is no longer just a token section on the conference handout, nor is it about the drawn-out process going on behind the scenes primarily in order to save the company money and resources, it is now an upfront policy and is becoming an integral part of the company and how the company is engaging with the wider community. In many instances, sustainability is becoming one of the core reasons for the event!


Benefitting from the MCI approach


Choosing an events management company with a grassroots sustainable approach is clearly a great idea - and one that you really can’t go wrong with. It’s money-saving and brand-improving, and most importantly, it safeguards the future of our planet. However, MCI has recognised that they have innovative ideas that deserve a wider audience and their consulting service is a crucial part of this open source nature.


For 30 years the company has been refining their sustainability ideals and they have a whole host of ideas that are ready to go and can be applicable to a variety of different industry sectors.


MCI offers consulting services on a pro bono basis to those companies that want to learn from their ideas. They are not precious about their success in this field. Authentic sustainability comes from a truly ethical vision and that means a sharing of ideas becomes second nature. MCI focus on the benefit to their client - and not necessarily their own. Ultimately though, they understand that whenever true sustainability principles are being applied; then everybody stands to benefit.


Measurable success is what most organisations are based on. It's a required factor for stakeholders of all kinds. MCI work with their clients to help them achieve a set of objectives (that may or may not have anything to do with being sustainable) and profit targets, with a sustainable approach that is surprisingly effective. Their methods may not have been considered before, but with their track record, the positive effects are clear and substantial. With a set of measurable objectives always in mind, MCI can point the way towards a more precise, authentic and sustainable future.




Sustainable Destinations


As a global enterprise, MCI holds events across the world and they have recognised that the best sustainable events take place in cities and regions where the infrastructure already allows for it. But they also know that not all destinations have recognised the value in seeking sustainability.


The Global Destination Sustainability Index was created in 2016 by ICCA, IMEX and MCI, later joined by ECM. As a collaborative business platform, the GDS-Index supports destinations to improve their sustainability practices and communication and uses these to benchmark destinations on an annual basis. The aim is to encourage destinations to compare themselves to their peers, share best practice and be inspired to improve their performance.


With most destinations based in Europe, including Stuttgart in Germany, the GDS-Index is attracting a growing number of destinations based in Asia, Middle East and the United States. Bangkok, Dubai, Monterey County and Washington DC have recently joined the 2018 benchmark and this is a very encouraging sign for the MICE industry.


MCI and their founding partners’ involvement in the GDS-Index is a clear sign of commitment towards advancing the sustainability agenda within the industry. It reflects MCI’s sustainability approach and culture as well as reinforcing the business case for more sustainable practices. There are few actions within the business world where improvements lead to such an overwhelming and far reaching benefit.


Profit really is possible


MCI is one of the few global organisations that has been able to prove that a sustainable approach to people and planet can result in improved profit margins. It's a message they want other organisations to understand. By taking those natural money-saving logistical and resource ideas and incorporating them into a holistic sustainability approach, turning them into a sustainability message, there is room for achieving a new brand image.

It isn’t cynical or jumping on the bandwagon, it is a truthful representation of core beliefs. It's an approach that is possible for even the smallest of companies and MCI is leading the way in proving how the possibilities are indeed endless when you embrace sustainability in all its forms.






To find out more about how MCI is building a culture of care and responsibility in the MICE industry visit their online annual report and to stay up-to-date on latest case studies check out their website:


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