Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 05 2014

Do Your Attendees Really Want Cocktail Hours?

By David McMillin

Think all your attendees can’t wait for the education to wrap up for the day so they can head to the hotel bar for happy hour? Not so fast. A new survey from Westin Hotels & Resorts reveals that nearly 40 percent of business travelers would give up alcohol for a full year to improve their well-being. If that statistic doesn’t convince you of their commitment to living better, this one might feel a bit more powerful: nearly half of US respondents would give up sex to improve their well-being.

The survey offers a clear picture of what matters to professionals when they’re on the road: staying healthy. Sixty-two percent of respondents consider maintaining a sense of well-being as a high-status symbol. In fact, their physical and mental wellness outranked professional accomplishments and healthy relationships.

“Citizens of the globe are ultra-aware of their state of well-being and are interested in what they can do to maintain it and improve their health and balance - even when faced with accelerated stress,” Brian Povinelli, global brand leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts, says.

SEE ALSO: Major Hotel Gets Serious About Getting Healthy

However, it’s no secret that taking care of oneself while on the road can be challenging. From late nights to early mornings to afternoons packed with meetings and greasy food, there are plenty of obstacles on the path to looking and feeling good. Thirty-five percent of respondents indicated that they struggle to find time to exercise, and 29 percent believe it’s difficult to maintain their well-being when they’re away from home.

Help Your Attendees Feel Healthy

While every meeting planner wants to deliver a schedule packed with cutting-edge educational sessions and high-powered expert speakers, it’s important to remember that attendees are looking for opportunities to get out of their seats, too. If your meeting is taking place somewhere warm, consider helping attendees connect to be part of a morning jogging group. Think of it as networking on-the-go. For indoor events, an increasing number of business travelers are turning to activities such as yoga, tai-chi and pilates. Thirty-four percent of respondents in the Westin survey said they use meditation or yoga to unwind after a stressful workday.

A friendly competition can elevate your healthy initiative, too. For example, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Annual Conference & Exhibition launched its first-ever HIMSS Wellness Challenge in 2014. Attendees used fitness tracking devices (they could also purchase one on-site if they didn’t have one) to participate in daily challenges for prizes: number of steps, number of calories burned and total distance walked.

SEE ALSO: Wellness Hotel Rooms In…Vegas?

Of course, well-being is about more than exercising. It also relies on making smart dietary choices. If you’re looking for helpful advice on how to plan meeting menu options packed with the vitamins and nutrients your attendees need, click here for an OnDemand webinar on how to make healthy F&B choices a reality.

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