Sustainable events for the travel industry - in talks with Nikki Mattei
Nikki Mattei and I met when I was head of Comms RX Global. I worked with her on some new travel experience awards and we discovered a mutual interest in responsible tourism. She now is a sustainability marketing specialist and asked me for an interview on how Journeys has included sustainability in our business values.
I hope you enjoy reading the interview!
1/ Can you tell me a bit about your career before you launched Journeys?
After achieving an MBA in Oxford, I specialised in creating events in travel with a strong focus on luxury. I spent 14 years as head of marketing and communications at Reed Exhibitions, part of Reed Elsevier plc, then joined Jacobs Media Group in 2014 to start up my own idea: Connections in the travel luxury sector.
In 2022, I launched Journeys, the tailored events solution specialising in the art of
engaging with one another in any sector and industry. We work with organisations in any industry and, depending on where we run our events, we reach new and existing audiences through unique experiences and authentic stories whilst always looking after our planet.
2/ In one of your blogs you quoted Socrates: “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Can you explain what you’ve done in the concept of Journeys and how you are creating a different
type of event for your clients and attendees?
Journeys is an evolution of everything I have built before and I believe that for people to evolve in business, the key is not to fight the old but build new opportunities.
Our events are different because they are carefully crafted so that people get plenty of time to get to know each other properly, while enjoying authentic experiences in, or about, the destination. Well-selected buyers and suppliers are brought together to network over fun activities that create a bond and a talking point that they will remember for a lifetime. This is called Journeys’ innovative FAM-MEET® way. At the end of the event, everyone has become friends and they can keep the conversation going by joining Journeys’ Tribe online network.
3/ Sustainability is a hot topic right now in the travel and tourism industry. What
is your own take on this having been involved in this sector for so long?
My own take is that we simply have to be sustainable in the travel and tourism industry. When I started working 20 years ago everyone was playing lip service to responsible tourism and sustainability but nowadays, you have to do it and you have to mean it. The luxury travel sector goes hand-in-hand with sustainability – off-the-beaten-track experiences, locally sourced produce, and a focus on contributing to the local economy.
4/ What sustainability initiatives do you have in place at Journeys and why did you choose these?
As head of comms at Reed Exhibitions, we introduced World Responsible Tourism Day to World Travel Market. The BBC was involved as a partner and we ran awards for tourism companies that were showing leadership
in responsible tourism.
Journeys’ events are tailored to the territory. Our audience gets to experience the local region, meet local people, and eat local foods in season at local restaurants – bringing the local community to live in a sustainable way, with a focus on responsibility.
We don’t print event agendas – it’s all online. Name tags are 100% biodegradable. At
our first event, in the Italian mountains, we gave people seeds so they could plant them along with their biodegradable name tag and could grow flowers.
I strategically plan Journeys events to help suppliers and buyers better manage their agendas and optimise their travel plans.
5/ What do you see as the main barriers within the events industry which are preventing organisers from embracing sustainability?
To be sustainable can be expensive. Unless you are very creative, being sustainable can cost money. My biodegradable badges cost an arm and a leg – printers have upped their prices.
Another barrier is that there isn’t always an incentive – unless the government does something about it and starts taxing disposable bottles, for example, theres no incentive to use anything else.
Sadly, the vast majority of components of exhibitions are so wasteful and non-sustainable.
6/ What advice would you give to other event organisers (or indeed other
entrepreneurs like you setting up their own businesses) who want to be trailblazers
and start on their own sustainability strategy?
Just do it. Be creative. Get the team around the table. Involve your main sponsor – for example, get them to find seeds that delegates can plant.
Think of little things that can make a difference. Don't have plastic glasses, use water
fountains to encourage your delegates to bring their own bottles. Use the crockery from the hotel.
7/ Lastly, what motivates you on your own personal journey towards a more sustainable future?
I have a sense of duty. I have two daughters and I want to leave a better world for them. Also, I'm in contact with so many people around the world it's so easy to influence others on the sustainable journey and be influenced by them. It’s like leading by example.