Should your first return to live events be focussed on Health and Wellness?
Updated: Jan 25, 2022
Such as is the impact on us all with Covid-19. From both a professional and personal aspiration, the need and desire to be "together again" in some capacity is continually growing. So the call for a return to live events becomes more when rather than if?
However with the landscape clearly changed from previous formats. There is more call now for event professionals to really consider what event they should plan when we get back to live.
Indirect and negative impacts on society include areas such as generic changes in established routines. Having to physically distance from someone you love— like friends, family, co-workers, or your worship community has been hard. There could be a feeling of a lack of progression in career or life, as well as the financial insecurity that a downturn in the economy and rising unemployment is causing. The CDC says "that this is not just those that have lost jobs, but those that live under the insecurity of it as a very real possibility. Those who live with people suffering this level of anxiety are also taking on mental health stresses."
Global Wellness Summit (GWS) releases an annual trend paper that this year reports the international wellness economy now stands at $4.5 trillion. Last year, the IBTM World Trends Report also acknowledged that wellness has transitioned from a ‘trend’ to a ‘mega trend’. This meant that the growing influence of wellness had grown into a movement that was now universal within daily life.
With all this in mind of both planners and employers, it really does provide a strong case for health and wellness being a key attribute and focus for events in general, but especially on return to the new normal and live events. With such time lapsed from physical and social interaction, we simply cannot expect to get delegates back in a room more the likes and expect them to act as if nothing has happened.
The IBTM Trends Report adds "for many, there is the very physical act of having to wear a mask more regularly, something that may cause degrees of anxiety every time it is needed. In general, it is important for event professionals to understand the lasting effects of the distances, created by the pandemic, between people; be they a physical two metres or something more psychological. Delegates of the future will bring the experience of physical distancing to an event. Simple acts such as shaking hands may feel uncomfortable and taboo, and it will take time to break these feelings down.
Outside of COVID-19, business has continued its commitment to the wellbeing of its employees, and this has been reflected in the events they deliver. Increasingly, companies are offering ‘app packs’ for new employees, and agreeing corporate partnerships with the likes of Calm, 10% better, Strava and Headspace, as part of a commitment to support mental and physical health and wellbeing. This investment is reflected in the events they produce. For a long time, events have offered meditation rooms and morning exercise routines as part of the itinerary. Now these apps are arriving at events with their corporate organisers as part of a series of meaningful brand partnerships that show increased levels of care to delegations. Future trends in wellness are also encouraging more open conversations around taboo subjects. The Global Wellness Summit identifies a ‘death positivity market’ that is continuing to evolve as we enter 2021, as well as ‘recuperative living’; more of a reaction to COVID-19. Similarly, ‘post-pandemic’, are two trends that are worthy of interest next year. Firstly ‘Positive Barriers’ is a trend being observed that involves creative design marking out social distancing in a positive and highly visual way, ideal for meetings and events looking for a more visual and enticing way of marking floor layouts. Equally, the development of ‘anti-viral fabric’ could be another piece of armoury for the hospitality industry as it looks to protect staff as they look after guests, delegates and customers."
As much as there is and will be a pull towards education and training events and forums. Conferences and exhibitions and a much needed incentive. Event professionals need to consider the impact on engagement, attendance and effectiveness on the event if we simply head back to the "good old days" again.
We need to heal, re-integrate, even re-learn how to be "together again." Health and wellbeing is not just a buzzword or mega trend. It is a very real and important part to our events and the core to the new normal as we move into the post pandemic era.