Mindful Meetings

09/02/22

Jo Austin, Sales Director, The Venues Collection and Lime Venue Portfolio

Our environment has a huge impact on our physical and mental health, so it is vitally important that organisers consider this when choosing venues for their events. Delegates may be feeling anxious and nervous about meeting again, so working with your venues to create happy, healthy and thoughtful event spaces will encourage delegate wellbeing, give them the reassurance they need and reduce the anxiety that may lead to dropouts.

The first thing is to consider how far your delegates will be travelling and how. You may consider holding your event in a country-side location, with onsite car parking to ease the stress of finding free, and available parking on the day (and having to create an account with the relevant parking app). Alternatively, a city centre location with easy to access air routes or a direct train journey may be more suitable for your delegates. What will your delegates need to know in advance to enable them to have a relaxing, stress-free journey and to arrive feeling happy and ready to go?

Outdoor spaces

Look for venues with outdoor spaces and use them; Even city centre locations may have terraces or roof gardens that will bring a calming dimension to your events. Incorporate outdoor spaces into your event by hosting the social elements outside, such as drinks on the terrace, mid-morning coffees in the gardens or a lunchtime barbecue on the roof.

If you have lots of outdoor space, consider holding an outdoor teambuilding session to encourage delegates to interact; as well as building camaraderie, activities such as these also help to bring some humour to an event and this too will help to ease any worries.

The Venues Collection properties have walking routes so ensure your delegates know about these options beforehand or even plan in some ‘netwalks’ (networking while walking) into your event programme in order to encourage colleagues to mix and mingle whilst they get some exercise in the fresh air. It goes without saying that venues with a swimming pool or a gym will also offer good healthy options to delegates – but make sure they know about them in advance so they can arrive with suitable kit.

Consider having a quiet room available for delegates to simply hang out and recharge. Providing a space, and ensuring that delegates know about it in advance can really help quash the overwhelm that may be experienced when returning to face-to-face meetings. Keep conference sessions snappy and short and build in regular breaks to your event programme to keep people from stagnating and feeling lethargic.

Natural daylight

Having natural daylight in the conference room will have a huge impact on the well-being of your delegates throughout your event. Having windows that open, and being able to let fresh air in also helps to invigorate an audience and keep them alert and feeling safe too.

Food for thought

Organisers have a wonderful opportunity to select well-balanced menus that will both sustain and nourish delegates’ bodies and minds. Consider sustainable and ethically sourced options to help delegates feel happy about their choices; many organisers are choosing plant-forward options in order to help with the carbon ‘footprint’ of their food.

Food that has been created to be slow release and keep blood sugars stable will help to balance energy and reduce fatigue and tiredness, and you may wish to offer a low-calorie option too; The Venues Collection has introduced meals with less than 500 calories to our delegate menus.

From April 2022 new legislation states that most restaurant menus will have to show calorie counts for each of their meals. There are certain caveats; it is not a legal requirement if a menu is available for fewer than 30 days or if a restaurant has a small number of staff for example. Having calorie counts enable delegates to make informed decisions but we often find that delegates welcome a few treats whilst away from home, so the opportunity for delegates to ‘treat’ themselves at an event should not be removed completely. Treats don’t all have to be totally calorific though; make sure that home-baked treats are in mindfully sized portions and include a variety of whole grains, good fats, seeds and fruit.

We are working with an organisation called Klimato to develop climate impact labelling and calculate the calorie counts of the food we serve across all of our venues. This will give our delegates the information they need to make informed decisions to choose low climate impact meals and to cut their C02e emissions.

Keep delegates hydrated by having water on tap, and encourage them to drink more by including frequent water breaks. If you are holding a drinks reception, be sure to cater for delegates who do not wish to drink alcohol. Many people now abstain – for health or social reasons – so providing interesting and fun non-alcoholic options is important to ensure no one feels left out.

Communication

Keeping your delegates in the loop and aware of all the considerations you are making availably is vitally important. It will ensure they feel mentally and physically prepared for the event and ease any anxiety. Encouraging dialogue before the event will help to reassure them and to allay fears, and will mean that you can take individual concerns into account if you are able to.

Ways we can help

Lime Venue Portfolio has launched two new packages, as part of its Meetings for Change initiative, that put mindfulness and wellness at the forefront of the meeting. ‘Mindful Meetings’ and ‘Ways to be Well’ are available in selected venues within the portfolio and include incentive extensions, guides and advice on adapting meetings for modern living.

To conclude, creating meetings that are considerate and empathetic with your delegate’s physical health and mental wellbeing needs is easy, it just takes some forethought, planning and partnering with a venue that also has these needs in mind.

This article was first published in Conference News, February 2022