Sunday, September 16, 2018

Integrating health and wellness into your events

Published in Prevue Magazine:

Healthy is happy. When you eat healthy and train, you feel better. You think clearer, you’re less stressed, and you look better. As a figure competitor and an event professional, I work to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into all my meetings and events. It’s super hard to be healthy when you are flying and traveling—I know. So I work with my suppliers to ensure my clients have healthy food options and fun fitness options integrated into their programs. Here are my tips for integrating wellness into programs:

Review banquet menus BEFORE a contract is signed. Most planners review banquet menus only after the contract is signed. If you’re not reviewing menus prior, you are missing out on key negotiating factors, as well as missing out on an opportunity to ensure a truly healthy and custom F&B experience.  And if you review menus after the contract is signed, you’re missing out on huge cost savings for your clients. (Cost saving Tip: Ask for current year pricing or at least a 10% discount on future menus for your program.) Ask for Chef’s custom suggestions based on the budget and demographics of your group. Discuss ways to limit waste and save money, while you’re at it. Remember, not everyone will participate in every meal. Monitoring the headcount at your events will assist in planning future events. 

Always ask for locally grown foods. Give attendees a local experience—starting with the food. You would not visit Nashville and not have hot chicken, or Philadelphia without eating a cheese steak. Ask Chef to use local ingredients and prepare local dishes. Be mindful of added sugars, and salt. (see below) By serving only local foods, you’ll support the local farmers and the local economy. And let’s be honest-fresh local food just tastes better.

Provide Chef a list of all dietary restrictions.  As a non-dairy human, and strict eater, I’m more sensitive and in tune to foods that contain dairy than most people—note: dairy is in more prepared foods than you think! Request that all food items be labeled GF, DF, Vegan. And Vegetarian. You’re attendees will thank you.

Request carafes of ice water vs bottled waters. In leiu of costly and non-environmentally friendly bottled water, I request carafes of ice water. STAY HYDRATED. Humans should drink at least one gallon of water per day. And when spending time in a desert environment or high altitude, water consumption is more important than ever. Stay hydrated. 

Let your Chef know that any added sugar is not acceptable. As a competitive figure competitor I do not eat foods with added sugar. Did you know that there are 57+ different terms for sugar? Anything pre-packaged usually means processed and therefore sugar added (and other ingredients you cannot pronounce.) Superfoods are not new but they are good for you.  Skip the donuts and plan a fun make your own bag of mixed plain raw nuts, berries, and cocoa, and shredded unsweetened coconut. Trust me—it will be a hit. And if you plan to do smoothies—remember your dairy-free and vegan attendees and have coconut and soy milk options too (labeled, of course.)

Don’t rush meals. I’m Sicilian—meals are a time to enjoy food, enjoy conversations, and relax and unwind. While you certainly can’t schedule three hours lunches, you can provide a bit more time for attendees to enjoy, and digest.

Incorporate the power of play. As infants and toddlers we learned through play. Why stop learning (playing) when you’re five? Interactive breaks are a great opportunity to introduce play. Or why not start the day with some play? Starting the day with a wellness activity is a great way to not only start the day healthy but another opportunity for attendees to bond, network, and Instagram your event. Yoga, local hiking, drumming, and spinning are all activities that work well. These activities are also a great opportunity for sponsor to get exposure. For example, I have this great MGM cool dry towel I received at a 6am wellness activity spinning class at a conference years ago. I still use it weekly for my Sprint and RPM classes. I participated in a FAM in Vancouver and received a Lululemon yoga mat. It was probably one of the top relevant and high-perceived value welcome gifts I’ve received. I lugged that mat back to California and use it daily.  

Don’t forget the power of scent. Essential oils are not hippie dippy—they are real. And so are their natural powers. Want attendees to relax and receive a well rested night of sleep—room drop a small vial of lavender essential oil at turndown. Want attendees to stay awake, diffuse wild orange or peppermint into the meeting room to boost engagement and attention. Offer an essential oil bar during a break. Have attendees smell several scents to see which resonates best with them at that moment. Offer them to take a small sample with them.

What are your favorite tips for integrating health and wellness into your events?

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Event Management Services Defined

Events, meetings, and conferences bring a team together, they energize actions and expand world views. Planning and managing events, meeting, and conferences is also a ton of work!

Whether it’s a company retreat, industry conference or a VIP summit we integrate logistics and meeting content to achieve a focused event with maximum impact. We find, select, negotiate, coordinate, plan, manage, promote, create, transport, staff, direct, reconcile, measure, and track.

We can do it all for you or just provide select services as an extension of your team.
Do you need help managing your next meeting or event?