Focus on agenda, speakers, location and cost are normally at the forefront of organisers mind but with the shift in the demographic of attendees, wellness is now a hugely important factor. With millennials expected to be the largest group of business travellers in the next 10 years and the population of Gen Z to reach 2.5million by 2020 these are the attendees that will be voicing their opinions. Research is not clear, but technology will be a huge factor in delegate satisfaction, especially as most of this generation has never lived without technology. In addition to technology however there are multiple ways wellness can be incorporated into meetings, conferences and events.
How can the event environment and exercise benefit your attendees?
With the majority of events, delegates are inside and sat down for most of the day and therefore the addition of exercise or access to outside space can be a simple way of increasing wellness. The Global Wellness Trends Report highlights that ‘prescribing’ nature can be highly beneficial and one hotel brand has found a perfect way to include this for any in house events. RunWESTIN™ Concierge was set up by The Westin Brand which is a daily morning fitness session set in local curated routes. Without pre-planned activities however, one suggestion is to simply give delegates complimentary gym access during the event. Even without exercise providing outside space and natural daylight during the event can see a lift in lethargy. The use of event Apps and Gamification gives organisers an extra way to encourage attendees to move around the event as suggested by the EICC’s ideas hub. Not only this but it can be a vital part of engaging the audience and increasing networking capabilities.
The food you serve can benefit everyone
Food and nutrition are similarly noted in The Global Wellness Trends Report and it can be a largely contributing factor to delegate wellness. The report states that focus stems from the nutritional content of food, so not only is it important to the delegates but also key for organisers to keep their audience focussed on the content being provided. The ever-changing dietary requirements of delegates becomes apparent when we look at that the number of people identifying as vegans. This has increased by 350% in the last decade in research commissioned by the Vegan Society. Providing well balanced and healthy options or alternatives for breaks and lunches, gives delegates the choice of what they want to eat, rather than the carb heavy options they are used to. If you have ever been to an event you will know that it is the food is what everyone remembers!
Incorporating wellness is easier than you think
A few other suggestions of ways to incorporate wellness into events can be; starting an hour later to allow delegates to sleep in, finish evening events earlier, provide healthy branding such as complimentary water bottles, schedule breaks where delegates can network but socialise on a personal level and use a venue that offers activities outside of the events programme.
Don’t forget about yourself!
Whilst wellness of delegates is important, we must not forget about the event organisers themselves. An article on C&IT explains that organisers spend months preparing for events and looking into ways that delegates are cared for but are not taking any time for their own wellbeing. Often organisers run back to back events in different times zones so it is key that they can take on their own advice to prevent exhaustion. The authors advice is to try and find some free time to take in the sites and the use of Apps to help shift your body clock.
Delegates are changing and so must the events
Melbourne Convention Bureau’s General Manager Business Development and Bids Beverley Williamson says it has become clear that wellness is no different for the meetings and events industry than any other. “Delegates expectations now demand that event planners keep up with a trend that is not going away, in order to stay competitive in the ever-changing world of events. It’s not as simple as adding one element in the wellness space. There must be a holistic approach to the entire program in order to align the event with delegates’ personal lives”.
Ultimately if you are looking to run a successful event wellness needs to be a focus and integrated where possible. With the change in delegate demographic it takes more than content to ensure customer engagement and satisfaction.
Author:Anna Hellawell, Account Manager, MICE Concierge. 7 years’ experience of working in operations and with our corporate and Association clients.