It may have started with a healthy granola offering at the pre-conference breakfast buffet, but the days of soggy oats are long gone, as a new wellness movement has become established in our everyday lives.
The global wellness economy is a now worth a staggering $4.2 trillion and has grown rapidly year on year with wellness tourism (a $639 billion market) projected to reach $919 billion by 2022… We live in an age where eating better, working out and being mindful can all be accessed by a quick click or swipe of our smartphones and with more of a spotlight shone on our health than ever before, delegates expect a certain amount of wellness incorporated into events… Lucy Saxton gets in the downward-facing dog position and finds out how events can jump on the wellness wagon…
Pick the right venue
Most venues and hotels are getting onboard with incredible offerings when it comes to health and wellbeing. A number of hotels are green and sustainable and some even offer foraging in the hotel gardens to get ingredients to prepare your very own fresh, locally produced dinners. When you’ve eaten your share of sustainable produce, hotels are getting in on the activity bandwagon and offering pedal bikes to get around the facilities and to conference and events venues. On top of this, access to health and fitness clubs and free health club passes often come included with your stay and early morning pre-event yoga classes or Pilates sessions can kickstart the day in the right way. For the more spiritual amongst us, meditation classes are becoming more and more common place at many venues with trained mentors to lead the session.
Time to practice that warrior pose and take some inspo from some of the leading hotels… wellness can go hand in hand with your event and get those feel good endorphins pumping for your attendees…
Adding a wellness lounge or wellness area to your event means delegates can relax and recharge between seminars or take a much-needed break from walking for miles on end. A delegate needs time to recharge, not only their fit-bit, but themselves too! Healthy drinks, snacks, and mini wellness talks from influencers and experts can be offered, or perhaps a massage with calming lighting, relaxing fragrances and some tranquil music. You don’t have to go full on whale sounds but a place to decompress goes a long way for delegates. Get your OMMMM on.
Make the menu magic
Look, we hate to keep harping on about those soggy granola oats or floppy dried up lettuce leaves, but the struggle is REAL. There are so many special diets these days and so many people with differing food tastes that there really is zero excuse to serve some half-hearted, sad looking oats and a few nuts and seeds and call it a ‘wellness’ effort. Think creatively when it comes to wellness. So many delegates are used to carb heavy brown or beige looking food at events, so sprinkle some colour and diversity to the menu. Include some sugar free and vegan options and your delegates will be doing one big conga down the aisles of your event- we put money on it.
Make sure the wellness-focussed menus go beyond the mealtimes too, with healthy nutritious snacks that can be provided throughout the event, as well as juice and smoothie bars and ‘hydration stations.’ The good news is that clean and healthy food means more energy and more spark for your delegates. So, say farewell to the dreaded mid-afternoon slump and hello to much more engagement from your attendees!
Most large events will encourage fun group runs before the conference doors open, or city running tours that can be a great way to check out a city when you’re against the clock and rushing from event to event. Get creative when it comes to showing delegates the best of your city or destination. By plane, boat or bike, get your delegates out into the great outdoors for a dose of Vitamin D and an active whistle-stop tour of the city! Mega conference IMEX is famous for its early morning 5k runs which are iconic but crippling (*which we can vouch for) and many other conferences are following suit by getting their attendees outdoors and moving!
Unplug and get mindful
At a recent event we were at, attendees were instructed to turn off their phones to be fully engaged and present during the seminar. Cue shocked gasps and heart palpitations from 85% of the attendees. This is a mindfulness hack that we’re all aware of. We all get that sinking feeling when our iPhones alert us of how many hours we’ve been online during the day and we are fully aware that cutting screen time is linked to better sleep, less stress and more engagement and focus with what is going on in the world around us. Mindless scrolling on your smartphone during a conference or event seminar has become the norm. As an event planner, you can make the rules to benefit this kind of mindfulness. If you say the words, attendees will follow suit and attendees are more likely to get on board if they’re instructed to and everyone else is doing it, than if they are given the choice. Let’s face it, the pull of Instagram can be strong, but the plus side is so much more engagement and more interaction at an event, which will result in stronger connections with the event and one another. When delegates unplug, they network, forging stronger connections with one another. Bingo! Click, swipe… find the off button.
By Lucy Saxton
Lucy Saxton is a journalist, content creator, social media advisor and broadcaster. Studying Criminology at Leicester Uni and completing an MA In print Journalism at The University of Sheffield, she began her career as Features Editor of the popular teen girls magazine, MIZZ Mag. More recently, Lucy has worked for Cosmopolitan Magazine and Seventeen Magazine. Lucy was previously a Journalist at M&IT Magazine which saw her travelling around the world and launching several social media channels for CAT MEDIA. Lucy is a regular travel correspondent on BBC radio.More articles by Lucy Saxton