Maritz Global Events Blog

Look Beyond Kale Chips to the Power of Promoting WellBeing at Events

It happens more often than it should—event attendees return to work tired from nonstop seminars, behind at work from putting everything on hold, disconnected from their lives and loved ones, and generally just wanting to get back to the gym, their normal diet and a good night’s sleep.

It’s ironic that something that’s supposed to provide inspiration and rejuvenation often ends up taking a toll. After all, aren’t live events, conferences & expos, and incentive sales meetings all supposed to be positive experiences for participants?

Things are changing though, thanks to best practices and fresh approaches in event design that support wellbeing throughout gatherings. Everything from kinder schedules to a range of offerings that feed the many facets of the soul are taking hold. That’s good news for attendees, their families—and companies that benefit from happy, healthy, purpose-filled employees.

A Megatrend in the Making

A couple of statistics from the Global Wellness Institute’s 2018 research indicate this is a megatrend that's made to last. For one, the wellness economy grew twice as fast as global economic growth between 2015 and 2017. That’s 6.4% versus 3.6%. In addition, event attendees are spending billions on wellness while traveling as they hit the gym, spa and juice bar—upwards of $511 billion to put a number to it. This marks the emergence major new market as the $2.6 trillion tourism industry and $4.2 trillion wellness industries converge.

choose your own fruit

Hotels that are ahead of this trend include Hyatt launching their wellbeing offerings, Westin with their partnership with Peloton, Equinox with their move into the hotel space, and Wyndham and MGM with their Stay Well Rooms, which feature everything from aromatherapy and circadian lighting to dawn-simulating alarm clocks and mattresses made from organic cotton.

While signs like these validate that change is afoot, they have also had a hand in limiting wellbeing’s move into the meetings mainstream. It seems a crunchy reputation can be hard to overcome. What doubters need to realize is that wellbeing is much more than a feel-good fad and that it encompasses more than exercise and healthy food. Here’s how Psychology Today defines it: “Wellbeing is the experience of health, happiness and prosperity. It includes good mental health, high life satisfaction and a sense of meaning or purpose. Wellbeing is feeling well.”

In other words, it includes all the values that lead to a fulfilling life. According to Maritz Global Events’ WellBeing leader, Rachael Riggs, “Wellbeing is about attending to the whole human.”

Wellbeing as a Business Practice

"When it comes to meetings and events, wellbeing is about good business. In today’s value-driven world, loyalty to brand and company is created through shared values—and wellbeing is a big one." 

Want to create a spirit of shared value and purpose at your event? Focus on the holistic needs of the humans who are attending.

Inviting wellbeing to the meeting makes perfect sense to Riggs. “I've always in my mind known that they need to converge,” she says. “You can't just avoid people's schedules. People need to find time in their day to exercise. They need to sleep well. They’re all about a balanced lifestyle.”

Shifting the baseline from late night steak and martini binges to chicken and fish and a sensible bedtime isn’t the whole picture, though.

Promoting wellbeing just makes business sense, especially in the case of incentive travel when the ultimate goal is to build up the front lines of a company’s success.

Riggs says, “The value it brings is you'll have satisfied attendees. They'll be inspired and they'll be motivated. Versus if you have them experience an event where they're up all the time and not balancing work and home life while they're gone. They're going to go home exhausted, unmotivated and not at their peak performance.” To take a whole human approach means to consider all of the values or aspects that contribute to “feeling well.”

Leverage as an Organization

To help clients solve this challenge, our WellBeing Program created a unique point of view that sees wellbeing as comprised of five dimensions of life: emotional, physical, social, environmental, spiritual, financial, occupational and intellectual. When working with event organizers, our team leverages these aspects to discover ways to amplify shared values through their event. Some examples of this include:

• Career-minded financial services groups who are always on the go, that could mean time-saving features and a “lifestyle lounge” to chill out.

• Groups who prioritize social or spiritual connectedness, that could lead to a volunteer activity like kit building or a cleanup.

• Groups who value physical, emotional and social wellness (i.e. every group), that could point to activities that enable guests to launch their day with a run or yoga class or that just encourage people to get up and move throughout the day.

By being thoughtful in this way, Riggs believes it’s possible to design events with holistic wellbeing offerings “that enrich the event experience, drive social change and can even make the world a better place,” she says.

For event planners and attendees, deeper engagement and greater connection are the ultimate rewards of wellbeing well-played. Our brand and engagement strategist, Tim Simpson says, “It’s about signaling and communicating to an audience ‘your health and wellbeing matters to the organization’. It’s a way to say, ‘Our guests matter to us’ and show that the company’s point of view and philosophy align with those of guests.”

Lean Into Wellbeing at Events

So how can you emphasize wellbeing at your next event? Riggs offers these suggestions:

• Make it part of the experience design phase
• Consider the goal of event and demographics in addressing wellbeing
• Leverage the “5 dimensions” to reveal opportunities to address guests’ needs
• Do an event audit to see where wellbeing features can fit in
• Ensure that activities supporting wellbeing keep attendees engaged
• Tap current trends—Ayurveda, anyone?

Ready to expand your consciousness of wellbeing? Discover its many facets and their relevance to your guests during a free, 30-minute consultation here.