Gone the days when merely price tag and quality were the main determinants of the buying decision for any consumer. Today’s consumer based on growing awareness is much more concerned about the ethical status of the tools and methods utilized to produce, handle, and deliver a product or service. This emerging category of judgmental customer has also influenced the theoretical background as well as several practical considerations in the domain of business. One of the most important contributions of this tendency is the emergence of ethical consumerism on part of customers and corporate social responsibility or sustainability as a response to ethical consumerism from entrepreneurs (Crane, 2008; Kirchhoff, n.d.).
Sustainability refers to the efforts made by any business or organization to ensure the benefit on economic, social, and environmental level simultaneously while managing their business operations. Three pillars of sustainability, generally, are also referred to as profit, people, and planet (Hopwood, Mellor, & O'Brien, 2005). This paper sets out to analyze the Wonderland’s adherence to sustainability to identify potential strengths and critical weaknesses with special reference to Montreux Jazz Festival. Finally, there are recommendations for the underlying company to improve its status and perception as a sustainable event management organization.
2.0. Wonderland Event Management and Sustainability
2.1. A Brief Introduction of Wonderland
Wonderland Events Ltd. is a renowned name in the event industry of the United Kingdom. The company was founded in 2000, and has undergone much evolution within 15 years of its life. It mainly deals in two types of events including brand promotion and conference. It promotes diversified types of brands belonging to retail, travel, technology, consumer goods, luxury brands, and philanthropy (Top10 Event Management Companies, 2015). The company has clearly defined mission, vision, and corporate value and endeavors to make its practical consideration accurate manifestation of its philosophical stance on ethics and sustainability also with regard to Montreux Jazz Festival (Wonderland, 2017)
2.2. Mission and Vision
The company aims to become the leading event solution provider in the UK, and it expresses this ambition through its mission statement (Wonderland, 2017). Hence, the mission statement is merely focused on growing the market share and there is no clearly defined vision to complement this statement. In other words, it has defined what it wants to achieve, but has provided no route map to its ultimate goal.
Furthermore, it fails to integrate its mission with sustainability. In other words, there are no clearly defined methods or strategies that it would follow to ensure its adherence to corporate social responsibility or any aspect of sustainability. This factor is likely to leave several questions in the minds of judgmental category of its clients unanswered.
Nowadays, small and large companies take pains in defining their mission and vision in a way that they reflect their association with society, economy, and environment. Apart from being an ethical obligation, this consideration also serves as an attractive marketing tool. It clears doubts and uncertainties in the customers’ minds (Belz, F.-M, & Peattie, 2012). Therefore, current approach of the company towards defining its mission lacks clarity, precision, and connection with all dimensions of sustainability, which it should improve as a measure for the preparation of Montreux Jazz Festival.
2.3. Corporate Values
Like any other business, Wonderland also has its values that include integrity, diversity, and respect for customers (Wonderland, 2017). Here, integrity refers to every attempt made to stay real in all business operations. It involves avoiding any unethical business gains during the process of the provision of services. Then, it aims to promote diversity, which relates to human resource management and customer management. It indicates that it is the part of the company’s culture to hold respect for people regardless of differences in terms of color, caste, religion, nationality, or any other aspect of ethnicity. Lastly, the respect for customer means responding appropriately to the specific needs of clients through customization.
Wonderland has shown better approach towards defining its corporate values as compared to stating the mission. However, again all three values relate to only one dimension (i.e. people) of sustainability with no reference to planet. Therefore, it needs to extend the list of its value to cover some other significant areas to make up for its current deficiency.
2.4. Economic Considerations
The company has not defined its role or effort to contribute to the economy of the communities where it operates. Contribution to economy is seen as an important part of sustainability (Hopwood, Mellor, & O'Brien, 2005; Giddings, Hopwood, & O'Brien, 2002). Therefore, the underlying organization needs to pay attention to this consideration to provide the evidence of sustainable growth.
The company has a large taskforce consisting of managers and their subordinates. In other words, there are several employees working at different levels within the organization. However, the company has been reluctant to report its policies towards employee benefits. Here, it is worth mentioning that higher level of employee benefits provided by any large organization increase the demand for labor in the local market. They also boost the purchasing power of customers and encourage consumption leading to positive outcomes in terms of economy. However, there is no such evidence when it comes to the case of Wonderland. Therefore, the underlying event management organization should also look into this all important determinant of sustainability.
2.5. Social Considerations
Social considerations refer to social benefits. Now a days, each sustainable organization endeavors to strategize its business operations in a way that ensures the interest of society wherein a business entity operates. It is a way to pay back to society by utilizing potential strengths of a business (Belz, F.-M, & Peattie, 2012).
The organization under discussion also has determined its objectives directed towards social interest. For example, it generously participates in different charity programs. Charity programs serve as a source of providing financial aid to needy people belonging to different communities. Furthermore, the management is quite passionate about promoting philanthropy programs initiated by different organizations (Wonderland, 2017).
It shows that the organization endeavors to build its perception as a socially responsible business entity by helping the society using every means within its capacity. However, as an event management company, it has much room for improving its efforts at social level. For example, it can add segmentsto its promotional events, which aim to enlighten public opinion on any specific issue of social interest. Educational elements in its events can bring down the level of entertainment, but can help combat against certain social evils. Effectiveness of these messages will largely depend on their level of integration with the core agenda of any promotional event.
2.6. Environmental Considerations
Contributions of any organization to environment largely determine its compliance with sustainability, because environment also termed as “planet” is one of the core components of sustainable development (Thiele, 2013). Keeping these facts in view, majority of small and large organizations of the world are striving to design and implement the ways to make environmental considerations a part of their system (Thiele, 2013). It is also applicable to event management and the growing popularity of “green event management” serves as an evidence of this tendency (Jones & International Institute for Environment and Development, 2010). There are several areas to be considered in this regard such as CO2 emission resulting from audience traveling; disposal of plates and cups; recycling of trash; serving organic tea and coffee for refreshment; and the planning the quantities of food carefully to avoid the waste.
Wonderland, despite being a large event management organization, lacks evidence of green efforts. It seeks top venues, but with least attention to the centrality of location. In other words, the company prefers the reputation of a venue to its distance from audience when it comes to choice. Then, disposable cups, plates, and cutlery are used for meals and refreshments. In a nutshell, there is no evidence of proper adherence to sustainability with regard to the event planning.
2.7. Health and Safety
Health and safety is one of the most important components of corporate social management. It involves incorporating health and safety packages such as medical allowance, work-life balance, and other factors falling into this category. In other words, the management should also pay close attention to the health and well-being of its people along with the provision of all other benefits. In addition, an event management organization should also seek the ways to minimize the health and safety risks for its customers (Thiele, 2013; Hopwood, Mellor, & O'Brien, 2005).
The company in hand has a proper employee benefit plan to attract the topnotch talent. It also aims to keep its employees happy and motivated with a firm belief in the positive relationship between employee motivation and productivity. Employees are also given medical allowance and free limited number of annual sick leaves and unlimited unpaid sick leaves. Then, there are also paternity and maternity leaves (Wonderland, 2017). It implies that the management is taking keen interesting in maintaining good standards of health and safety when it comes to people management.
However, it lacks proper approach when it comes to customers. The management does not consider the quality and ingredients used in the food and coffees served during the event. It mostly prefer expensive food items, but with no consideration of their compliance with the principles of hygiene. Green efforts are centered on organic foods and sugar free coffee and tea, but Wonderland has not made it the part of their sustainability plan (Wonderland, 2017). Based on these facts, it is appropriate to say that the underlying event management organization is, but partially complying with health and safety, and it needs to improve its approach to customers in this regard to rise to the level of modern standards of sustainability.
2.8. Compliance with Regulations
It is important for any event management organization to ensure its fool-proof compliance with all regulatory considerations, as it is most fundamental to sustainability. Here, it is worth mentioning that corporate social responsibility or sustainability is closely associated with ethics. And, ethics and law are closely related with each other. Any company that infringes law cannot provide evidence of its sustainable ethical status (Thiele, 2013; Hopwood, Mellor, & O'Brien, 2005; RRC, 2016).
First of all, it is seen that the organization is paying close attention to the health and safety of its employees by making essential health-related benefits the part of employee contract. It is indicative of the company’s proper compliance with Health and Safety at Workplace (HSW) Act 1974. Furthermore, Wonderland also makes sure that the structure of its each selected venue involves minimum hazard, so it can ensure the safety of its audience. Furthermore, stages are also arranged firmly and are properly checked before the event. It implies that the company is properly following the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) 2015 (RRC, 2016). From this scan, it is assessed that the underlying event management organization is comprehensively fulfilling its legal obligations and its stainless track record is also indicative of the same (Wonderland, 2017).
2.9. Ethical Status
There is an old adage “everything that is legal is not necessarily ethical”, and it also applies to the event management industry. Companies may ensure their compliance with legal obligation, but may also fail in fulfilling ethical requirements at the same time. As a matter of fact, some moral considerations are made part of law, while others are not. Ethical considerations that are not incorporated in law require companies to follow them voluntarily, which becomes difficult in a situation characterized by conflict of interest (Thiele, 2013).
The company in hand makes sure that it follows the state law with regard to all aspects of its business operations (as also discussed earlier). However, it fails to pay proper attention to its ethical obligations, especially, when it comes to the choice of venue, audience traveling, and environmental considerations. On the basis of these findings, Wonderland is recommended to improve its ethical status, as it is closely linked with CSR and sustainability (Thiele, 2013).
3.0. Recommendations for Montreux Jazz Festival
The analysis made above shows that there are several loopholes in Wonderland’s approach to sustainable event management. Therefore, the company is recommended to put the following recommendations into practice to bring improvements in this particular areas. It would allow it to manage events relating to Montreux Jazz Festival more sustainably:
3.1. Compliance with ISO 20121
The International Organization for Standardization has defined the code of conduct to be followed by all the entities operating in the sector of event planning and management (Jones & International Institute for Environment and Development, 2010). The company should make sure that it follows the set of standards defined in the underlying manual. It will help the management avoid the unethical practices wherein it has previously been indulged.
3.2. Avoiding Health-related Hazards
The company should pay more attention to the health and safety of its audience. To achieve this purpose in the most appropriate ways, it should begin with the quality of food served at its events. In other words, the company should define quality from an ethical perspective rather than in terms of taste and spice. For example, it should prefer organic foods to non-organic high-end food items. By the same token, attendants should be allowed to customize the balance of ingredients in coffee and tea. It would allow the patients of diabetes to avoid sugar, while people with obesity would be able to reduce calories by opting for specific combination of ingredients. In a nutshell, Wonderland should make every effort within its capacity to minimize the health related risks for its audience as well as for its clients and employees.
3.3. Improving Environmental Sustainability
The most problematic area with regard to the company’s approach to sustainability is environmental risks. Therefore, it should take immediate and proper initiatives to avoid these hazards. In the first place, the company should be more careful regarding its choice for venue. It should make sure that the venue is located centrally and at minimum distance from the location of majority of its audience. Hence, attendants will have to cover short distance, which ensures reduced consumption of fuel and minimal CO2 emission. It means that any central location would be an environmental friendly location. It should prefer central locations for all the events relating to Montreux Jazz Festival 2017.
In addition, it should use reusable dishware and cutlery for meals and refreshment. Disposables usually contribute to waste and pollution. Use of reusable dishware will allow the company to avoid these environmental threats.
Recycling of trash is also very important. There should be proper arrangements to clean the site after the event is over. Furthermore, it should make sure that minimal waste is sent to the landfill, and major part of it is recycled. These considerations would allow the company to emerge and pose as an environmentally sustainable event management organization.
3.4. Improving Social Plan
Wonderland should voluntarily promote different charity programs to ensure it input towards social welfare. Even though it will add to its operational cost, long term benefits of this consideration in terms of exposure and perception fairly exceed this cost. Furthermore, it should also arrange fund-raising events for calamity stricken people in the event of any natural disaster affecting the communities wherein it operates.
Wonderland needs to improve all three areas including economic, social, and environmental considerations of its sustainability plan to emerge as sustainable event management organization in all the events relating to Montreux Jazz Festival 2017. Here, it is worth mentioning that improved level of sustainability also associates business gains for the underlying organization. For example, initiatives directed towards social benefits will create a sense of connectedness with the brand among people. Hence, it will be able to attract potential clients based on its rational and emotional ties with its audience. Initially, the recommended improvement may require some additional cost, but it is justified by the long term benefits.
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