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Let’s Have Healthy Events—and Please Pass the Butter

Everyone agrees that healthy events and meetings are the best--but it doesn't always work out that way, a new IRF study shows

Most U.S. meeting planners and the companies they work for say they want to create healthy meetings and incentive programs. But actually doing it? That’s another story

According to the just-released study from the Incentive Research Foundation, more than 90 percent of corporate and incentive house planners said they are personally enthusiastic about wellness. The majority of planners also agree wellness is a critical focus for either their company (87 percent) or their client’s company (74 percent).

But what happens in the ballroom, however, is a different stor y. Less than half of corporate end-users say that they currently connect their meeting strategy with their organization’s wellness strategy, and less than half of meeting companies provide detailed wellness guidelines.

Meeting planners were temperate in their assessment of how healthy their meetings are, with 40 percent saying their typical meetings were “mostly healthy” and 19 percent saying “ver y healthy.”

And money matters: These numbers rise significantly--to 46 percent and 30 percent respectively--when planners are asked about meetings with additional budget dollars.

Why the disconnect? The IRF speculates that it might be an “information gap,” that is, most planners tend to turn to “general interest” searches (read: Google it) to find healthy options for their events. Far fewer turn to wellness institutions, professional organizations, or their own colleagues, the study says.

The most commonly offered “healthy” F&B options now used at meetings are:

  1.  Healthy snacks, fruits, vegetables (83 percent)
  2. Water and reduced calorie drinks as default (82 percent)
  3. Fish, chicken, lean meats (80 percent)
  4. Gluten-free options (71 percent)

The most common “healthy” options now used in meeting design are:

  1.  Smoke-free facilities (90 percent)
  2.  Free access to fitness facilities (80 percent)
  3.  Frequent breaks to encourage moving (76 percent)
  4.  Casual dress to encourage activity (76 percent)
  5.  Venues within walking distance (75 percent)

The complete study is available for download here.

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