Research Into the Integration of Wellness, Meetings, and Incentive Travel

 

Methodology & Respondents

 

  • IRF’s first survey on the topic of wellness in the meetings and events industry was fielded in January 2017.
  • Web-based survey was distributed to IRF database, Prevue Magazine subscribers, and research panel
  • Received 143 completed surveys from a pool of experienced meeting planners and hoteliers

 

Respondent Profiles
  • Survey respondents are responsible for planning numerous meetings of various types throughout the year
  • One-third of meeting planner respondents plan more than 10 meetings per year
  • Sales meetings, conferences and trade shows, and incentive travel are common meeting types for this audience
  • Meetings most commonly have between 100 and 500 attendees

 

Assessing Standard Meeting Wellness
  • Hoteliers offer a more positive assessment of how healthy a typical meeting is – more than 1/3 indicate a standard meeting with no extra budget for wellness option is “very healthy”
  • Meeting planners are more measured in their assessment, with most indicating their typical meetings are either “mostly healthy” or only “somewhat healthy”

 

ASSESSING STANDARD MEETING WELLNESS WITH EXTRA BUDGET
  • With extra budget, meeting planners are optimistic about their ability to transform meetings to be “very healthy” or “mostly healthy” – a considerable shift from their standard meetings.
  • Hotelier ratings for meetings with extra budget are comparable to their assessments of standard meetings, with only a slight shift to healthier meetings when provided extra budget

 

Planner’s View on Wellness In Meetings

Corporate Planners Are Personally Vested

Respondents planning meetings for their own firm are personally invested in wellness and sustainability, and report their companies have wellness programs in place. However, that foundation is not translating to a similar strong focus on wellness and sustainability in meetings, either in design, policy, or budgets. 

 

Corporate Disconnect on Wellness: Interest vs. Implementation

Although over 90% of corporate planners agree they are personally enthusiastic about wellness, 87% agree it’s a critical focus of their company and 71% agree there is a corporate wellness program, less than 50% connect their corporate wellness to meeting strategy.  

 

Corporate Disconnect: Sustainability

Although 91% of corporate planners agree they are personally enthusiastic about sustainability, roughly half or less agree their companies emphasize or budget funds for sustainable meetings.

 

Incentive/Meeting Company Planners Are Vested As Well

Similar to their corporate counterparts, incentive house and meeting company planners are personally committed to wellness and sustainability. They do not see a similar level of enthusiasm from their clients, however, nor do their firms take a strong stance in advising their clients on wellness and sustainability in meetings.

 

Incentive/Meeting Company Planners: Wellness Disconnect

Although 97% of incentive house planners agree they are personally enthusiastic about wellness and almost three-quarters agree it’s a critical focus of their clients,  less than 50% connect their corporate wellness to meeting strategy.  

 

Incentive House/Meeting Company Planners: Sustainability

97% of incentive house/meeting company planners agree they are personally enthusiastic about sustainability and almost three-quarters emphasize sustainable meeting design to their clients. 

 

Wellness Through Healthy Eating: All Planners

Healthy options for beverages and snacks are the most common tactics for incorporating wellness practices into a meeting. Offering locally-sourced ingredients, bulk food/condiment service, and alternatives to dessert are less common but well-regarded practices.

Top 4 Standard Healthy F&B  Inclusions

Water, healthy snacks, lean meats and gluten free options are the most commonly healthy inclusions.  71% or more of planners either offer these standard or when circumstances allow.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the extent to which you/your client incorporate(s) healthy/sustainable options for food and beverage at meetings.


Top Healthy F&B Upgrades: Preferred When Circumstances Allow

While many planners offered these options standard or when circumstances allowed, many also said they did not offer them or even consider them. 

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the extent to which you/your client incorporate(s) healthy/sustainable options for food and beverage at meetings.


Healthy F&B: Not Offered or Insignificant Consideration

More than half of planners said reduced plate sizes, nutrition guides and reusable dishes were not offered, not considered, or did not apply.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the extent to which you/your client incorporate(s) healthy/sustainable options for food and beverage at meetings.

 

What other healthy F&B options do you consider when planning meetings? (38% of planners responded) 

Verbatim analysis from open-ended question posed to planners

Healthy F&B  Options

#1 Vegetarian Forward (14)

  • Examples: Vegetarian Options, Meal Salads, Veggie Trays

 #2 Better Beverages:  Water (9)

“We almost never offer sodas anymore.  Infused waters have become quite the thing for our groups, and we serve ice tea and lemonade as well” 

  • Examples: Water, Beverages other than soda, Stevia, Organic Teas and coffee, soy milk options

#3 High Protein Snacks: Fruit and Nuts (9)

  • Examples: Protein bars, nuts, fruit trays, "make your own trail mix"

#4 Allergies (7)

“Food sensitivities are at an all time high - the frustrating part of that is when due diligence has been made to accommodate these many varied food requests and the attendee decides to "go off the grid" and not eat what has been specially prepared for the - that "eats" into my numbers and can be dicey when those attendees literally take food out of the mouths of others”

  • Examples: Peanut free environment, special considering for food allergies

#5 General Healthy Options and Buffets (7)

"We mainly look for items that would be perceived by most people as "healthy". Thus we are not over achievers on health, but we are trying to meet the needs of the masses."

  • Examples: Anything possible, Offering both healthy and "not so healthy" options, buffets with choices
 

#6 Low Calorie, Fat, Carb Content (5)

“Higher protein content, lower carb options (i.e. not continental breakfasts without eggs), Choice of protein (i.e. chicken vs fish) or buffets”

  • Examples: Fat free, low fat , low calorie snacks and food, No carb diets

#7 Better Deserts (3)

  • Examples: Bite size apps, deserts, Offer fruit desserts/parfaits over cakes/pies/cookies, ice cream bars with soft served YOGURT instead of ice cream.

#8 Cost (2)

“It's overall cost.  Usually deviating from the printed catering menu results in increased costs."

#9 Other (7)

  • Farm to Table
  • Less salt
  • Fresh Pressed VOO vs. creamy dressings,
  • Dressing/Condiments always on side
  • Main Entrees baked, poached or roasted, Serve Multi-grain rolls/breads
  • Label everything

Budgeting for Healthy F&B Options

Top 6 Budget-Friendly F&B Choices

Healthy beverages, lean meats, and reduced plate sizes have the lowest expected impact on meetings budgets. 

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the potential budget impact of healthy/sustainable options for food and beverage at meetings. (To the best of your ability, please respond for all options - even those you don't typically offer.)

 

Mixed Budgetary Review

Gluten-free, locally-sourced ingredients, gluten-free options, may carry enough expense to require additional funding.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the potential budget impact of healthy/sustainable options for food and beverage at meetings. (To the best of your ability, please respond for all options - even those you don't typically offer.)

 

F&B Options that Most Often Require Additional Budgetary Consideration

Almost 30% of planners said organic and nutrition guides would require additional funds to cover. 

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the potential budget impact of healthy/sustainable options for food and beverage at meetings. (To the best of your ability, please respond for all options - even those you don't typically offer.)

 

Wellness Through Activity and Meeting Design

Smoke-free properties and facilities represent an easy win for meeting planners, and free access to a fitness facility is often possible. More challenging are zero-waste meeting design and activities for groups and attendees of various ability levels.

Fitness activities and gamification are most likely to have a consequence to a meeting budget requiring additional approvals, while smoke-free facilities, casual dress, and frequent breaks can be incorporated with no additional cost.

Top 5 Health & Wellness Inclusions

More than 75% of Planners automatically offer these items standard or when circumstances allow.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the extent to which you/your client incorporate(s) healthy/sustainable options for activities and fitness.

Emerging Health and Wellness Inclusions

More than 50% of Planners offer these items standard or when circumstances allow.  More than 40% did not offer them, did not consider them, or said they do not apply.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the extent to which you/your client incorporate(s) healthy/sustainable options for activities and fitness.

 

Least Offered Health and Wellness Options

50% or more of Planners either do not usually offer these items, do not even consider them for their meetings, or said they do not apply.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the extent to which you/your client incorporate(s) healthy/sustainable options for activities and fitness.

 

Budgeting for Health and Wellness Activities

Best Budget-Friendly Options

Smoke-free facilities, casual dress, frequent breaks, mindfulness and guides to resources top budget-friendly options, with the vast majority of planners saying they could be added at no additional cost or without additional budget approval.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the potential budget impact of healthy/sustainable options for activities and fitness at meetings. (To the best of your ability, please respond for all options - even those you don't typically offer.)

 

Mixed Budget Implications

While free fitness facility access and close-by venues are good budgetary options for over half of planners, more than a quarter of planners don’t use them or say they would require more budget approval.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the potential budget impact of healthy/sustainable options for activities and fitness at meetings. (To the best of your ability, please respond for all options - even those you don't typically offer.)


Require More Approval or Not Used

Fitness activities and gamification are most likely to have a consequence to a meeting budget requiring additional approvals.

Question: Using the scale below, please indicate the potential budget impact of healthy/sustainable options for activities and fitness at meetings. (To the best of your ability, please respond for all options - even those you don't typically offer.)


What other activities/fitness options do you consider planning meetings? (20% Responded)

Verbatim analysis from open-ended question posed to planners

#1 Getting People Moving Outside the Meeting (13)

“Our VP of marketing organized a scavenger hunt at the end of the team meeting.  We had the opportunity to work in teams and look for items around our place of meeting.  This activity made us refreshed”

  • Examples: Organized Walks (5) Active options, boot camps, bicycle riding, geocaching, 5k

#2 Getting People Going During the Meeting (9)

“We do STRETCH/YOGA BREAKS, led by an actual person or via video feed”

  • Examples: Frequent 5-min breaks, Seat Yoga, Stretch, Standing desks or at least alternative seating

#3 Can't Do it - Barriers  (5)

“Frequent breaks are not conducive to large meetings since you will lose the audience, and valuable training time”

  • Usually at their own discretion, just list the amenity of the gym, meeting agendas are usually jam-packed ... they would need to do on their "off time".

#4 Wellness Checks/Information (4)

“We have brought in a KAISER Mobile unit so people could get their blood pressure checked as well as other wellness-related tests" 

  • Examples: Wellness Books, Wellness speakers, Wellness checks

#5 Mindfulness/Relaxation (3)

  • 2 masseuses at one of our meetings so attendees could sign up for a 10 minute neck and shoulder massage during the meeting

 

Wellness Practices – Past 24 Months

  • Only 1/3 of meeting planners have invited a wellness/health speaker to a recent event or selected a wellness destination for a meeting.
  • Non-traditional health activity adoption rates are low, with only one in five meeting planners including this activity in recent events.

Question: In the past 24 months, which of the following has your company incorporated as part of a meeting or event? Select all that apply.

 

What Has Worked?

Most Impactful Wellness Component You Have Seen?  (52% Responded)

#1 Organized/Encouraged Activities (24)

“We offer/lead Morning and Afternoon Fit Walks at several of our meetings, with the potential for some nice prizes!"

  • Examples: Organized walks, daily optional work out, biggest loser competitions, 5ks, complimentary group classes/hikes, Cycling to conference venue, Geocache, team building activities that require standing up, scavenger hunts.

#2 Yoga/Meditation (14)

"Meditation- taught how easy it is to do, costs nothing, no equipment- just relaxation tools"

  • Examples: Yoga before meeting, Yoga on the beach, Hot yoga, Meditation Breaks, Stretching before every meeting to wake the people up

#3 Healthy Eating (12)

“We often times have the Chef from the property teach the attendees how to make a HEALTHY meal... and then we usually serve that same meal or lunch!”

  • Exclusively healthy meal options, Vegan foods, Vegetarian options, creating healthier meals,

#4 Interesting Breaks (10)

  • Frequent movement breaks, Build agenda to allow time for breaks, No seating during the breaks.

#5 Other (9)

“Wellness checks are of great value because provides instant bloodwork results as well as vital signs and weight”

  • Spa treatment during a break, Speakers on food allergies, sustainable / no waste meetings, Massage station, petting puppies.

 

 What Has Not Worked?

What, if anything, have you tried to put in place that hasn't worked and Why? (30% responded)

#1 Poorly Attended Activities (17)

  • Yoga/meditation at some smaller meetings. Because I work in the south and often times co-workers, older heterosexual males in particular, are not open to this sort of practice and talk down to those who are interested in participating."
  • "A few years ago we offered morning walks to relieve stress and they were poorly attended"
  • "Early morning fitness class - attendees drink too much the night before and don't show up"
  • “Group activities, morning walks/runs - attendees not interested”
  • “Our walks aren't very popular because people like to sleep in”

#2 Push Back on Healthy Food

  • “Consumption of soda. People are addicted to the sugar and caffeine” Nutritionally based menus,  100 % organic - cost and availability restrictions
  • Healthy food, some people need red meat

#3 Other (9)

  • Guest speakers - Team members seemed to be uninterested and not engaged
  • Non traditional practices such as acupuncture but higher ups say not in budget, Reusable water bottles - folks used 1 day and then left in their rooms
  • We tossed around the idea of a WALKING CONTEST (by the number of steps people took each day), but that would require that all attendees be given a GOOD pedometer (not a $3 pedometer), or that they have a Fitbit or similar device.  The cost was somewhat prohibitive, but we are trying to come up with some new ideas for next year.

 

What Would You Like to Try?

What wellness components, if any, would you like to incorporate in a meeting or event in the future?  (49% Responded)

#1 More/Different Organized Activities (20)

“I think a fun, low-impact aerobics or "dancersize-type" class could be fun after a long day of sitting in meetings”

  • More group fitness classes, Boxing, Daily run/walk, Hiking, Resistance Training, races, morning walks before sessions, pool exercise

#2 Yoga (9)

  • Daily yoga and pilates classes, Yoga on the beach, yoga for free in the morning, Group stretching before meetings

#3 Active Break Strategies (9)

"Fitness or wellness breaks throughout the meeting schedule rather than before or after"

  • healthy breaks, more frequent breaks to keep people moving, Walking breaks, mental breaks

#4 Healthier Food (8)

  • All healthy foods served, Healthy snacks, Healthy food choices, No soda, Organic, healthy F&B - synced with AM + PM bio rhythms

#5 Meditation or Mindfulness (7)

  • I would love to introduce a "meditation room", where attendees could go to just "be still/silent" for a little while and re-energize 

#6 Spa (or Spa-Like) Activities (5)

  • Acupuncture,  Skin rejuvenation, Spa treatment, Foot massage machine and shoulder massage, Taken near a spa and offered as an option to enjoy after the meeting

#7 Fitness Facilities (3)

  • Options for people to exercise on their own. Free access to exercise room, Hotel with free gym; Fitness Facilities

#8 Other (5)

  • Gamification, fit bits, more health conscious and aware, less energy use, sustainable meeting environment

 

Where Do You Go For Information?

#1 The Internet (21)

  • Online research, Google searches, Internet, Online articles in business insider, usually on the internet.

#2 Specialized Wellness  (12)

  • Dr. Weil/ Mayo Clinic Website/Integrative MD. Practitioners/Acupuncturists, Gyms, Wellness magazines or seminars, Webmd, Wellness stores, personal trainer

#3 Industry Blogs and Associations (11)

  • Industry blogs and magazines (6), ASAE, PCMA, IMEX, Convene/website, FICP 

#4 Supplier Contacts (6)

  • Conversations with DMCs, hotel staff, hotelier F&B menus, CSMs and DMCs on sites, Suppliers

#5 Co-Workers/Friends (5)

  • Professional contacts in industry; Conversations with my peers or coworkers, Friends

Only 1 person said:

  • Through the health and wellness department in our organization (1)
  • Have no idea