5 Ways to Create a Work Hard/Play Hard Meeting

These activities can infuse a serious meeting with serious fun

The typical American worker works an average of 47 hours per week -- almost a full workday longer than what a standard 9-to-5 schedule entails, according to polling organization Gallup, which says half of full-time workers typically work more than 40 hours a week and nearly four in 10 at least 50 hours a week. Add to that the countless hours spent cooking, cleaning, and commuting, and it's no wonder that many Americans feel perpetually stressed, stretched, and strained.

In a world with so much to do and so little time in which to do it, meeting professionals have a new mandate to help attendees achieve greater work/life balance -- even if it's only for the duration of an event. Here are five ways they can fulfill that mandate by making it easy to mix business with pleasure:

1. Get Physical
Exercise isn't just physically stimulating. It can be socially stimulating, as well. For that reason, physical activities are a great tool with which to inject more play into meetings. In particular, consider creative group sports whose unusual gameplay makes them more fun than competitive. For example, Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort in Herradura, Costa Rica, offers FutGolf; played on the resort's golf course, the concept is similar to golf but instead of a golf ball and hole uses a football that's kicked toward a 21-inch "cup." At the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, meanwhile, groups can try Aruban beach tennis, a pastime on the island that blends elements of volleyball and tennis to create a memorable sand-based sport.

2. Belly Up to the Bar
Thanks to their festive music, lights, and drinks, bars typically are a lot more fun than meeting rooms. So, why not bring the bar to your meeting, or your meeting to the bar? At the Conrad Miami, for instance, groups can meet in the 25th floor restaurant Atrio's private Wine Room, then enjoy signature cocktails at the nearby Bar at LvL 25, which overlooks the cityscape and Biscayne Bay. A few hours north, in Orlando, the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa connects via skybridge to the entertainment, dining, and shopping complex at Walt Disney World's Disney Springs, where meetings can spill over into a number of "after-hours" venues like Splitsville Luxury Lanes bowling alley or Jock Lindsay's Hangar Bar, which Disney describes as a "1940s airplane hangar turned dive bar."

3. Shake Up Your Scenery
A bar isn't the only place capable of making meetings fun. Take the Danville B&B in Geneva, FL, for example. Self-contained in an airplane hangar, it looks like a country porch upon arrival, then magically transforms into a mini-town that includes an Irish Pub, theater, photo booth, and outdoor pavilion; additional hangars house planes, a man cave, and classic cars that attendees can explore on Segways while the owner -- a pilot -- takes small groups on aerial tours of Central Florida in his private plane. Or, try the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens in nearby Sanford, FL, which has a large room and interactive gallery for meetings and receptions, as well as a patio area, an outdoor space with a gazebo, and an indoor air-conditioned exhibit area; plus, zoo staff can entertain attendees with live animals during cocktail hour while attendees can walk around and take photos among the animal habitats.

4. Part With a Dance Party
Anyone who's ever been to a rocking wedding reception knows that a dance party is the ultimate way to let one's hair down after a stressful event. Meeting groups can host one of their own aboard Manhattan's Spirit of New York -- a three-hour dining and sightseeing cruise that offers a tour of iconic New York City landmarks via boat with dinner, games on the boat's rooftop deck, and two dance floors with live DJ entertainment -- or at SLS Las Vegas, where groups can boogie at Foxtail Nightclub & Pool and The Foundry live music venue, both of which are available for private events.

5. Provide Laughs
Booze and bass are two ways to loosen up a work-heavy meeting. Belly laughs are another. Speakers bureaus like Goodman Speakers Bureau can help you acquire comedic talent with which to give your meeting a jocular jolt.

Satisfaction yields success. Whether it's with jokes, cocktails, or turntables, making your meeting feel less like work and more like play can yield major returns for attendees and organizers alike.