When attending meetings and conferences, we often expect carb-heavy meals and few, if any choices for those on a specific diet or with food allergies. But that is changing…and fast. Over the past few years we’ve seen a huge increase in conferences and events offering more healthy choices, and more WAYS to be healthy.

This shift isn’t surprising, as The Global Wellness Institute estimated that “mindful movement” will be the #1 growth sector moving forward, with 12% annual growth through 2023. Further, workplace wellness is a $48 billion sector, and “wellness tourism” accounts for another $639 billion annually. Yes, that billion…with a B. All of these growing industries have an impact on how meetings are designed.

People expect at least some healthy options. Bananas always go fast, as do apples, trail mix, and the like. But offering more than just some healthy food can show your attendees that you’re really committed to their health & wellness.  

Consider adding a one-pager to your welcome packet that outlines nearby running trails, yoga studios, or other boutique fitness studios where one or two class passes are easy to come by. If budget allows, provide reusable water bottles so attendees can stay hydrated on the go.

If the venue offers fitness classes or access to a gym, make sure attendees know about it. One of the most successful initiatives I’ve seen at an event was a step competition. All attendees got a branded pedometer and sported it proudly all week. Attendees were comparing steps and moving more. Of course, the prize was a fully paid vacation, so this is out of budget for many – but could be an awesome sponsorship option!

As you plan out your schedule, think about how jam-packed it is for attendees. Incorporating wellness programs gives attendees a healthy and memorable experience, as well as a much needed “brain break.” Consider adding “walking sessions,” where small groups walk and discuss a given topic instead of sitting again.  Schedule sessions on work-life balance or meditation as well. One conference I attended even offered a healthy cooking class in the venue’s kitchen.

If you have more time to plan, consider focusing on your sponsors. Communicate the desire to be more mindful of health & wellness to current sponsors. Maybe they’ll shift from offering root beer floats to fresh sorbet. Still fun and unexpected, but healthier. Consider crafting your sponsorship packages to highlight wellness as well. Lots of sponsors like to offer alcoholic beverages – they still can! Add in a blender bike and attendees can bike to make their drink.  Other sponsorship options could include morning yoga or HIIT sessions, a mocktail reception, or a 5K run/walk to get people outside and having fun.

In short, incorporating wellness doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Just like with your own diet, small changes can make a big impact.

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