Why Wellness is the #1 Meeting Trend of 2019

By Diane Tighe Director of Catering & Conference Services, Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club | April 07, 2019

There is a reason that wellness is gearing up to be the top meeting trend of 2019, with associated expenditures growing double the rate of economic growth at $4.2 trillion, as reported by The Global Wellness Institute. The popularity and enthusiasm surrounding this theme cannot be ignored, making it essential for meeting planners to incorporate into each meeting and event this year.

As more individuals and companies begin to require wellness tactics as a standard, planners need strategic ideas to execute wellness plans, thoughtfully and thoroughly. There are copious emerging trends and beneficial programming in the industry that align with this topic, with a wealth of options to create a well-rounded experience for attendees. But what exactly is wellness and what are a few real ways that planners can implement it?

Wellness can be broken down into three subsets – physical, mental and social well-being – which must all be considered to truly round out the wellness sphere. As personal and professional priorities continue to blend together, successful meeting planners need to be aware of not just the goals of the event, but the goals of the individual as well. First, let's define each of the wellness subsets for a better view point and discuss how to organically incorporate each theme into your next meeting.

1. Physical

A state of physical well-being is not just the absence of disease. It includes lifestyle behavior choices to ensure health, avoid preventable diseases and conditions, to live in a balanced state of body, and takes into account the mind and spirit. This may include eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, kicking smoking, staying active, making a point to stretch regularly and much more.

Incorporating physical wellness into a meeting can be done through integrating both active movement opportunities and selecting the catering decisions wisely. As devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit continue to encourage standing and movement, attendees are more likely to be aware of sitting too long. Mayo Clinic counsels that sitting for long periods of time links to a number of health concerns, such as obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and more. Events can implement chances for attendees to stand during a discussion and kick off the day with golf or an organized morning run or walk.

From goat yoga to 5K runs, getting people up and moving can revitalize energy levels and reset everyone's productivity. Especially after a long period of sitting still, consider scheduling a breakout session that includes movement like a mini golf tournament or artistic workshop like do-it-yourself painting that will also allow people to draw inspiration from new stimulus. The average person's attention is typically only eight seconds, according to a study by Microsoft, so giving their minds a break might just the be motivational element that the meeting is missing and a fun way to refocus attention.

Make sure to also offer nutritious meals for the health-conscious and options for those with dietary restrictions, whether from allergies or preference, so everyone is nourished and satisfied throughout the day. Some common ingredients to be aware of are gluten, peanuts, dairy, shellfish and animal products, to name a few. Culinary teams are becoming increasingly creative and flexible, so a good food service should know how to cater to everyone's needs. Organizers can send out a survey ahead of the event to get information on the forefront to prepare chefs ahead of time.

There should also be plenty of water and healthy snacks available throughout the day, rather than just at meal times. Eating small, frequent snacks can help keep the metabolism going and can help normalize blood sugar. Foods like fruits, vegetables, almonds, low-fat yogurt, whole grains and hummus are satisfying and packed with the nutrients, fiber and protein that the body needs, and they help prevent sugar highs and lows.

2. Mental Well-Being

Mental well-being is defined as a state in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to their community.

There is so much information conveyed at meetings, so it's easy for attendees to leave feeling drained. To prevent this from happening, integrate more breaks into the schedule as a way to regroup and refocus, which is ultimately more likely to capture better engagement and participation. After sessions are complete for the day, planners can also slot in opportunities to meditate, whether through gentle yoga or breathing exercises. A study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison even shows that meditation might reduce the chance of getting a cold or the flu, so don't make the mistake of lowering this as a priority on the totem pole.

Offer a session focused on how to sustain mental well-being through stressful times and have an expert share suggestions on how to work through the daily stresses of life to produce a positive and productive outcome.

It's also important to think about how the actual speakers are communicating with attendees to keep them engaged and informed. During seminars, there is typically a lot of information conveyed in a short period of time. To keep presentations both interesting and informative, consider having speakers mirroring the TED Talk format, focusing on storytelling to engage audiences and capping talks at 18 minutes, which is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people's attention. With this approach, the audience will focus on the contents of the speech while remembering key takeaways with ease.