Wellness is one of the hottest trends in the meetings industry right now. For meeting planners, it’s important to ensure that wellness opportunities are accessible to all attendees. Planning a 5K or shifting to healthier snacks and meals are turnkey initiatives that certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. To achieve a more holistic program, there are nine dimensions of wellness and many ways to use those to make a meeting healthier in all aspects.
Physical wellness consists of behaviors such as exercise and nutrition. It is the most obvious and talked-about type of wellness, and the one addressed by 5K races and healthy food options. It also includes getting an adequate amount of rest, which can be encouraged by adding nap pods or lounges to your meeting space or building in downtime for attendees between daytime education and evening activities.
An emotionally well person is in touch with his or her feelings, which can be hard to achieve with a busy meeting schedule and pressures of the job waiting back home. Mindfulness, the idea of being fully present in a moment, is one way to achieve emotional wellness, but the onus for this is on the individual. Planners can help encourage mindfulness by adding a meditation space or offering yoga classes, something that would also check the physical wellness box. Or, consider a more radical idea like having an option to check your phone at the door of a session to encourage attendees to be fully present.
A person who is professionally well finds satisfaction and enrichment in work that is consistent with his or her values, goals and lifestyle. Attending a corporate or association event is a good start, which can be amplified by setting up a mentor/mentee program during the event or pairing young and seasoned professionals together in a way that allows each group to gain insight and wisdom from the other.
Social wellness refers to one’s ability to interact with others and is fulfilled when a person has a network of support. A slam-dunk for promoting social wellness at conventions is to plan a first-timers mixer, so that anyone attending an event for the first time can bond with others to quell any feelings of uncertainty or awkwardness. Even better, pair a first-timer with a regular attendee so the new person can learn the ropes and make a friend/mentor in the process.
Spiritual wellness revolves around values, beliefs and purpose. It doesn’t necessarily mean religion, although it can. Offering resources to connect attendees of various religious and spiritual beliefs to places where they can practice their beliefs in the city of your meeting can be helpful. The yoga class or guided meditation recommended for emotional wellness can also help to re-center someone spiritually.
Financially well people have a full grasp on their financial situations and save to reach future goals. Take a cue from ASAE, who allows one person (in this case, a planner) to attend for free if another person within the organization (in this case, a CEO) registers to attend, to help member organizations be financially well. Planners can also consider the option of including expenses such as meals in the registration cost, to help attendees have fewer out-of-pocket costs while traveling.
Intellectual wellness happens through lifelong learning and critical thinking. This is an area where meetings excel, as often intellectual stimulation is the top priority. Captivating keynote speakers and session presenters help engage attendees in new ways of thinking. Additionally, built-in time for networking between industry peers can help spur new ideas when hearing what innovative things others are doing in their organizations. Consider getting even more out of your networking sessions by introducing a topic or industry issue attendees can use as a conversation starter.
Environmental wellness involves having respect for surroundings and a connection with nature. This can be one of the toughest aspects of wellness for meeting planners to manage, but there are options. Look for convention centers or venues that offer rooms with windows or plan evening events outside. If those options aren’t available, bring in plants and trees to help beautify a space and encourage attendees to spend free time walking in a park or taking a hike to get some fresh air. You can assist in this by working with the CVB to provide maps or resources on nearby parks and trails.
The hallmark of creative wellness is placing high value on and participating in a range of arts and cultural experiences. Incorporating creativity into a meeting is much easier than it may seem. Have an interactive activity in the corridor of the meeting space, such as a group art project or a large coloring page, that attendees can take part in as schedules allow. Plan an event in a museum or art gallery so attendees can get a flavor of the local culture. Or introduce creative problem-solving to your agenda with a brainstorm session or hackathon.
You’ve got this!
Incorporating a balanced mix of wellness aspects into your meeting is easy to achieve when it’s built into your itinerary planning process. Experience Columbus’ experienced team of service professionals are able to assist you with recommendations for instructors, caterers, venues and more that can help fulfill any number of these dimensions of health. Contact us today for more information.