Healthy trends are here. A current trend is beneficial to all meeting professionals and our meeting attendees! I am talking about incorporating a healthy eating plan, exercise and mindfulness into the meetings and conferences we plan. It is becoming main stream as more meeting professionals are conscientious about menu selection and incorporating healthy habits into their meeting agendas. Planners are working with hoteliers to make it come to fruition at their meetings. The meeting attendee experiences a fun and healthy conference while the planner gains another tool that adds value to their organizations as they take a stance of caring for attendees’ well-being at their meetings and events.
Hilton makes it easy since they introduced Meet with a Purpose in January this year. The focus is on Mindful Eating and Mindful Meetings. The program’s intent is to encourage planners to reduce waste while building health and wellness into their meetings and conferences. Hilton works with the event professionals on utilizing portion control, sourcing local food, pre-plating and setting up water stations throughout meeting areas with reusable, sustainable containers. Hilton hotels also have specialty menus that incorporate break menus with exercise or mindfulness sessions. This makes it easier for planners to build exercise and meditation sessions into the meeting agenda. (Sample Menus)
Indicators show that many do want to stay on track when away from home attending conferences. In fact, 7 in 10 maintain healthy, daily lifestyles. However, things change when traveling and being away from home. Often attendees arrive to their hotel feeling stressed from traveling and all of the hassles that accompany travel these days. Then they face a hectic conference schedule. Usually the food selections are less than healthy and before long, overindulgence takes over. But, with indulgence comes lethargy and brain fog. Are those meeting attendees going to retain what they are learning and are they going to be engaged in the meetings and collaborate thoughtfully with their colleagues? Healthy eating when traveling and at meetings, along with relaxation and exercise can boost energy, promote creative thinking, sharp minds and increased collaboration.
Now as meeting professionals, we can demonstrate our concern for the well-being and health of our attendees. We can be more conscientious with better food selection options and provide opportunities for relaxation time as well as building exercise into agendas. Hilton makes it easy and they understand the importance of the well-fed, healthy mind of meeting attendees. Hilton also understands that providing these as services during the meeting also shows an organization’s concern for its people.
Healthy food options might include a yogurt bar during a morning break, hummus and veggies for the afternoon and possibly a build-your-own salad from local farmed produce. Why not include a morning yoga session or an afternoon or after meeting walk before the cocktail hour starts. And, many planners now utilize a breakout room as a relaxation, meditation room or for mini massage sessions during the breaks. Or, your speakers could incorporate a 10 minute mindfulness session into their message.
There is supporting evidence that using meditative movements in meetings help center, balance and refresh brain cells, allowing for further learning and retention. More and more folks are practicing meditation in their daily lives so let’s continue it during our meetings. Even a short meditation or quiet, relaxation time can refresh the mind. Research indicates that being centered and mindful helps increase productivity and is good for us. Now this practice is making its way into our meetings world. Meetings can be far more productive and less stressful, if they are conducted in a mindful way, utilizing breathing and meditation techniques.
To learn more about Hilton’s healthy approach to meeting planning, see Hilton Worldwide’s Director of B2B Marketing, Toni Zoblotsky’s blog (The Year of Healthy Meetings). Also, Hilton has a great brochure for greater insight into the research data and one that could be used with management in talking about incorporating healthy options into your meetings (Wakeup Brochure). This is definitely a trend all meeting professionals need to get on board with!
Fun, Healthy Mindful Meeting Experiences
Ms. Martinez is a long time member of the hospitality and event planning community. After a long-term career as a corporate meeting executive for Lennox International Inc., Martinez began doing her own meeting and event consulting. Recently she has been doing project management as well as managing on-site operations for large conventions; most over 5,000 attendees. Martinez also authors blogs for the I-Meet website on various destinations. Additionally, she is a Certified Life Coach and hosts monthly Meetups, Inspiring Women in Transition.
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