Wellness in meetings and incentive travel is the subject of the latest study from the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF).
The report, The IRF 2021 Wellness in Meetings and Incentive Travel Study, is based on discussions with 50 meeting and incentives planners and suppliers who gathered to discuss the changing definition of wellness at Prevue Meeting’s fifth annual Meet Well Summit, which was held September 8 – 9.
“IRF was proud to partner with Prevue Meetings on the Meet Well Summit,” said Stephanie Harris, IRF president. “We explored the shifting definition of wellness as it pertains to events, with mental health and balance, along with safety during travel and at meetings, rising to the forefront.”
Wellness has long been a part of meetings and incentive travel programs. With COVID continuing to pose health threats and impact attendee comfort and confidence, meeting and incentives planners discussed how they are looking at the concept through a different lens. During facilitated discussions, attendees considered how factors such as health and safety, attendee mental health, physical health, food & beverage, and sustainability impact the overall attendee wellness experience and level of comfort.
Key insights discussed in the report include:
- While traditional wellness inclusions such as yoga, healthy food, and use of the spa remain popular, the focus for wellness has shifted to self-care and safety in the wake of COVID.
- Planners reported a trend toward smaller meetings and a strong desire for outdoor space for meetings and receptions.
- Potential attendees express concerns about traveling, being in an environment that they can’t control, and the uncertainly of a new location.
- Wellness in meetings has always been driven by the goal of making attendees feel comfortable and cared for, but the emphasis on emotional wellbeing has increased because of the pandemic.
- Communication is critical to helping attendees feel informed and in control of their experience.
- Providing flexibility and options regarding the agenda, breaks, and spacing are critical elements in achieving attendees’ peace of mind.
- Healthy food and beverage options continue to be a mainstay of wellness inclusions and are more important than ever as people adapted to new eating habits while in lockdown.
- Planners reported that sustainability is an important component of wellness, but acknowledged that in many ways, the response to COVID often feels counter to sustainability.