by Diane Tighe | May 17, 2019

Wellness is a $4.2 trillion industry, growing nearly twice as fast as global economic growth, according to the Global Wellness Institute. This has made wellness an increasingly important component for planners to incorporate into their 2019 meetings and events.

Wellness can be broken down into these subsets: physical, mental and social well-being. All three should be considered to truly round out the offerings at an event. As personal and professional priorities continue to blend together, meeting planners need to be aware of not just the goals of the event, but the goals of the individual. With this in mind, here are several ways to add wellness components to the agenda.

Get Active

The Mayo Clinic counsels that sitting for long periods of time correlates to a number of health concerns, such as obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and more. Incorporating physical wellness into a meeting can be done by considering active-movement opportunities as well as via catering decisions. Planners can opt to start the day with activities such as golf, for instance, or an organized morning run. During the meeting, setups can allow for and encourage attendees to stand during a discussion or session.  

Serve Healthy Food

Diane Tighe, director of catering and conference services, Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club

Make sure to offer nutritious meals for the health-conscious and options for those with dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free or vegetarian, so everyone is nourished and satisfied throughout the day. Culinary teams are becoming increasingly creative and flexible, so a good food service should know how to cater to everyone's needs.

Take Breaks

On the mental-health side, there is so much information conveyed at meetings that 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. 

Include Meditation

After sessions are complete for the day, planners can slot in opportunities to meditate, whether through gentle yoga or breathing exercises. A study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison even shows that mediation might reduce the chance of getting a cold or the flu, so keep such practices in mind when creating an agenda.

Encourage Connection

Having a sense of connection encourages communication, trust and new ideas, not to mention inherently making an event more fun. To round out the event's wellness offerings, encourage social well-being by providing forums for your guests to get to know each other better through mixers and group activities. In this way your meeting can function as both a professional development tool and a networking opportunity. A social component can help attendees forge new connections in the industry for years to come.

These ideas are not mutually exclusive to one wellness bucket; for example, the camaraderie of social well-being also contributes to a better overall mental state, as does following proper nutrition. At Washington Duke Inn, we come to work every day with a plethora of fresh ideas to help meeting planners achieve organizational goals while thinking outside the box. Each wellness component is interconnected and, equally as important, implementing the above ideas is a great start to creating an environment that will help take your meetings and events to the next level. 

Diane Tighe is director of catering and conference services at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, on the campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C., where she and her team plan up to 75 events per month. With nearly 20 years of experience at the property, Diane is a Certified Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) and an active member of NACE since 2001. She handles meetings for organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits like the Duke Children's Gala and global academic powerhouse Duke University. Only 20 minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club is nestled on 300 acres filled with tall pines and hardwoods, offering 271 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites.