Health and wellness is a massive ongoing trend. So much so that the Global Wellness Institute’s research valued the international wellness industry at $3.7 trillion, of which wellness tourism was over $560 billion. Oh, and that was in 2015, so it’s probably more by now.
The events industry has been quick to pick up on this, and find creative ways of helping attendees practice healthy behaviours while at their event (such as eating well and staying active), and to feel more relaxed and less stressed, and generally have a better experience.
Have you tried to add an element of wellness to your event? If not, here are a few guidelines to get you started.
Get some inspiration
What you decide to do at your event will, of course, be determined by the type of event you are hosting and who your attendees are. After all, it’s unlikely that a bunch of elderly, beer-bellied mine managers will want to do a yoga session, no matter how much they might benefit from some sun salutations.
If you’re looking for ideas on what your attendees will be receptive to, social media can offer some good clues. Which LinkedIn Influencers are they following and engaging with? What is trending on their Instagram accounts? Which hashtags are they using the most on Twitter? This kind of digging can give you some good ideas for things like motivational speakers and topics, activities and even food trends.
Your venue choice is a critical component of your event’s wellness goals. Choosing a venue that is able to serve healthy food, or even let you bring in your own suppliers who do, is a good start. But also consider somewhere with lots of natural lighting, open spaces and beautiful greenery, which can contribute to simply feeling healthier just by being there.
The Healthy Venues certification is a new grading system that scores venues on these kind of criteria. Knowing a venue has achieved gold certification, for example, will give event organisers a solid reassurance that their venue meets a high standard on a spectrum of health considerations – while the venue will also be equipped to give advice and guide organisers around how to have a healthier event.
A healthy menu is the simplest and most obvious way to add a wellness element into your event. Get rid of the oily nibbles that will send everyone into a food coma, and instead look at light and energising foods like build-you-own salads, wraps and smoothies, hearty soups when the weather is cold, lots of low-carb options, and food that’s made freshly onsite and with wholesome ingredients.
Don’t forget to cater for the health needs of attendees with different dietary requirements and allergies. You don’t want some of your attendees to be sadly chewing apples while others feast nearby.
A big part of the health craze is wrapped around staying active, as this helps to boost your guests’ heart rates and keep them alert and engaged. You can have a lot of fun with physical activities, from more traditional options such as a yoga class, hike or run, to some more zany ones like slack lining, hula hoops or silent day time raves (with the music playing through headphones).
If you don’t have time to schedule in an early-morning class, you can add in this element in other interesting ways. One overseas event had stationary cycle bikes that attendees could cycle on during talks, and another set them up in pause areas where they could be used to charge their phones.
Another novel idea is to offer free health screenings, so delegates can check their blood pressure or cholesterol at your event (which might motivate them to participate that zumba session, after all).
Interestingly, most attendees place more value on improving their mental wellbeing than their physical wellbeing. This calls for a different tack – such as bringing in a motivational speaker to talk on a self-improvement topic, having quiet pause areas that attendees can escape to if they need a time out, offering relaxing mini massages during breaks, or a team building activity that helps a group to connect and have fun. In fact, connectivity and authentic engagement is a vital part of wellbeing, so try to encourage this in creative ways at your networking events and during refreshment breaks.
Greener & kinder
Another important aspect of wellness is not just about your attendees, but about your suppliers and which businesses you support. Do they also have healthy, happy business principles such as promoting sustainability, using organic food, or practicing fair labour principles? Being able to show that you have sourced everything for your event responsibly demonstrates you are being authentic about promoting healthy principles, and helps your attendees feel good about your event and themselves for supporting it. (And feeling good promotes wellbeing!)
Have fun with this trend, and don’t be scared to try new things. Always get attendee feedback afterwards, so you can assess what worked well – and what maybe didn’t!