In an era where international conferences are synonymous with air travel, Trev and Olie, from media technology company MediaKind, opted for a sustainable journey, traversing the distance from Southampton to Amsterdam using a combination of public transport and bicycles.
Trev (right) and Olie's (left) eco-conscious journey raises awareness and sets an example for reducing emissions at high-profile events. Credit: Trevor Cullen and Olie Baumann
The International Broadcasting Convention, a glittering affair attracting 43,065 attendees from 170 countries, witnessed MediaKind's environmentally conscious approach to business travel.
While the majority arrived by air, Trev and Olie embarked on an eco-friendly adventure, with the help of Sustrans, to underscore the environmental impact of flying and to advocate for alternative travel options.
For each one-way journey they saved a total of 282kg of carbon each.
For them it was more than just reaching a destination, they wanted to shout out loud about how doable sustainable alternatives are in business travel.
We caught up with them to gain insights into their experience.
Changing gears: The journey
Trev and Olie's journey wasn't just about switching modes of transport.
In their careful prep, they teamed up with sustainability experts and local bike shops to cut down on their environmental impact.
Their departure from the norm was not only a deviation in travel mode but also a departure from the carbon-heavy practices associated with international business travel.
Trev answered our questions about their eco-friendly journey.
Q: How do you normally travel to this event?
Trev explained: “I usually travel to the annual event by air, using a car to get from home to the departure airport, usually London Heathrow, and then train or taxi from Schiphol to Amsterdam city centre."
Q: How did you prepare for the journey?
“We used our contacts at Sustrans to learn from their experience of travelling the route, planning the route and researching rest stops, and what we need to take with us.
"They gave us a lot of support and encouragement and reassured us it was possible.
"A local bike shop taught me basic roadside maintenance and made sure the bike was appropriately equipped for the journey.
"Olie is used to endurance events, but I’m not.
"I trained for 9 weeks in the run-up to departure.”
Q: How did you find the journey?
“Olie found day one very hard as the average temperature was very high and he was alone.
"Day two was longer but cooler and it was nice to be on the coast. Day three was fantastic.
"Overall, the availability and quality of cycle paths was exceptional on the continent. We didn’t get lost once.
"We took some turns off route but only because we were being nosey or wanted to stop for food or drink.
"I genuinely think we could have done the whole thing without GPS.”
This thoughtful preparation involved not just physical training but also coordination with sustainability experts and local bike shops, emphasizing a meticulous approach to minimize the environmental impact.
Trev, joined by his wife Emma, puts in the miles on a static bike. Photo credit: Trevor Cullen and Olie Baumann.
Green lights from the workplace
MediaKind's proactive support is a positive example of how businesses can harmonise commercial goals with environmental responsibility.
Q: Was your workplace supportive of you choosing to travel this way?
“MediaKind were great. They gave us additional time to make the longer journey and covered our costs. Not all companies would do that.
"They are onboard with carbon reduction too.
"All employees are on a home working contract which reduces their carbon footprint but the company also provides office space for those who wish to utilise it.
"Our offices have secure, undercover bicycle parking and showers, and are within easy walking distance from a mainline train station and on several bus routes within and around Southampton city.
"The recent office move we made has access to sustainable travel options, which was a key decision criteria."
Trev and Olie chose to travel to the 56th International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam by cycling 400 miles and using eco-conscious alternatives to air travel. Credit: Trevor Cullen and Olie Baumann
Changing mindsets: Impact beyond the ride
Trev and Olie's experience highlights how sustainable choices can reach far beyond the immediate commute, from reducing carbon emissions to changing perceptions at conventions.
Q: How much carbon equivalent saving did you make by travelling by bike and Eurostar?
“We saved 282kg of carbon each, based on our one-way travelling by train, ferry, and bicycle and returning via train - as opposed to air travel.”
Q: How was your journey received by people at the convention?
“Really well. People were very interested.
"At times, it was difficult to get people to talk about the products we were there to sell, as they were so interested in the ride and the travel options we used!”
MediaKind's proactive support for this venture sets a positive precedent, demonstrating that companies can align business interests with environmental responsibility.
The journey captured the attention of convention-goers and raised awareness about sustainable travel.
Q: Has your experience helped to change the way you or others travel for day-to-day journeys?
“Yes, it definitely has. My first choice of transport for any commute to the office is now my bicycle.
"Prior to this, I would not previously have thought this feasible on a work day.
"MediaKind are planning alternative transport modes for next year’s convention, to give people the choice.
"MediaKind have targeted a 30% sustainable travel target for next year's event. Not perfect but an improvement from all air travel.”
Q: Have you got any recommendations for other organisations based on your experience?
“I know cycling isn’t always possible for everyone. I would encourage organisations to promote sustainable alternatives to employees and consider incentivising these methods.
"A reward based scheme for example. Travelling by train often means that you arrive at your destination fresher than by air travel.
"It allows employees to continue working whilst travelling, which you can’t do on a plane.
"And actually, the cost and time difference to the company of travelling in a more sustainable way can be minimal, contrary to popular belief.”
Raising public awareness and money for charity
Trev and Olie not only attended a convention, but they also raised public awareness and peddled progress at such a high-profile event.
As the UK addresses its carbon footprint, it's noteworthy that the transport sector stands out as a significant contributor to CO2 emissions.
MediaKind sets a commendable example. As we collectively fight climate change, their story may inspire more businesses to take the lead in reducing emissions through business travel
The pair received support from Sustrans, My Journey’s Solent Travel Demand Management project which is funded by National Highways, EF Travel, Design Original, and Munday Enterprises.
They have raised over £2,000 for the charity Brave and Determined, who provide early intervention life-saving counselling to people with mental health challenges.
The charity self-funds with a clothing range and sponsorship from brilliant initiatives like Trev and Olie’s adventure.
Every journey is unique, and your experiences can inspire others. Our Storytelling team is waiting to hear your story. Get in touch.