Should wellness be on your event’s agenda?

Health and wellbeing was a topic largely consigned to the fitness industry for much of the 20th century – but times are changing and event planners are now considering whether or not it should be on the meeting agenda.

In our day-to-day life, many of us strive to keep fit, emotionally and physically, to meet the demands of modern living. With the rise of channels such as YouTube and Instagram, health and fitness gurus are becoming stars in their own right, leading the trends as the public face of a massive industry.

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Importance of wellness
Research confirms that being in tune with our wellness is important – and its benefits are now starting to creep into events planning.

The meetings, hospitality and travel sectors are recognising that it’s more than just a social media trend. Modern developments have seen the introduction of meditation sessions at conferences and wellness amenities at hotels.

In a digital age increasingly dominated by technology, it’s more important than ever before to bring a window of calm into our life. If it’s possible to conduct business meetings in a calm and tranquil environment, this can only be a bonus.

Some events organisers are just starting to approach the general idea of wellness, but others are already fully committed, having gained an experiential understanding of its value. The effects of a world filled with technology are being offset by promoting wellbeing at meetings.

“Be Well Lounge”
So, in practical terms, what does this involve? At a recent conference of event planners, held at IMEX America in Las Vegas, inspirational speaker, trainer and adviser Lee Papa helped delegates to understand what it meant to have wellness on the agenda.

Papa practices the concept of mindfulness – embracing an awareness of ourselves and the world around us to improve our wellbeing. She introduces a “Be Well Lounge” to events to counter the impact of demanding schedules and high-stress environments.

As someone who lived a high-stress professional lifestyle in the past, she began introducing the concept of mindfulness in 2014. The Be Well Lounge at IMEX America hosts yoga classes and meditation sessions during conferences, so that delegates can “recharge their batteries” whenever they feel the need to do so during their hectic schedule.

The lounge provides calm and serenity away from the trade show floor – a concept that has taken off in leaps and bounds since it was first launched by Papa five years ago.

She says her sessions at IMEX America are aimed at planting the “seeds of awareness” in delegates, in the hope they will go away and introduce similar ideas at their own events and meetings.

Some delegates are apprehensive about the techniques but are willing to put the takeaways into practice, as they have immediately actionable tools at their fingertips. A survey by IMEX of almost 1,200 people revealed that more than 75% recognised the importance of wellbeing while on the road.

However, the challenge for business people is usually trying to spare time for a few moments of quiet and stillness during a hectic events schedule. Meetings planners are urged to become more aware of the benefits of providing somewhere for delegates to relax, enjoy a few moments of meditation, or simply some quiet time, during the conference.

Key benefits
According to studies, promoting wellness at conferences can leave delegates feeling more inspired, which in turn makes them more creative and productive.

A person who has slept well and who feels emotionally calm retains information better, experiences fewer symptoms of jetlag or general fatigue, has more energy, feels confident and makes better decisions as a result.

According to Papa, delegates’ wellbeing should be paramount consistently throughout the meeting, approaching the topic on multiple levels, as this will benefit every other programme on the agenda. She suggests kicking off the event with a general mindfulness session, introducing the topic to delegates who may not be aware of its benefits.

Then, during breaks built into the agenda, people can attend meditation or yoga classes for some quiet time, to leave them feeling refreshed for the next session. Brief breakout sessions, particularly during a long and busy day, will also keep the focus on delegates’ wellbeing.

Stress from travelling, general stress caused by a packed agenda, not having the time to eat properly and employee burnout can play havoc with the average meeting attendee.

When the agenda is packed and the travel is exhausting, taking time out can play an important role in making delegates feel at their peak again, leading to greater employee satisfaction and productivity – so it benefits both the workforce and the company.

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