An overwhelming majority of planners said wellness is a critical focus for either their company (87 percent) or their client's company (74 percent), according to the Incentive Research Foundation's "Wellness in Meetings and Incentive Travel Study." The poll of 143 meeting and incentive professionals (including those who work for incentive houses or meeting planning companies and corporate end-users) and hoteliers was conducted in November 2016. Among other key findings:
- More than 90 percent of corporate and incentive house planners were personally enthusiastic about wellness
- Forty percent of planners indicated meetings were "mostly healthy," and 19 percent said "very healthy.
- The top preferred food-and-beverage wellness inclusions for meetings and events were healthy snacks (83 percent); water and reduced-calorie drinks (82 percent); and fish, chicken and lean meats (80 percent).
- Smoke-free facilities (90 percent) and free access to fitness facilities (80 percent) were the top-ranked standard or preferred meeting-design wellness elements.
- Water and reduced-calorie drinks as the default (77 percent) had the lowest expected impact on F&B budgets
- Emerging wellness practices included mindfulness breaks or resources and providing guides to nearby health facilities.
"Each year companies in the United States invest billions of dollars to help their employees get healthier and additional billions to help them meet face-to-face," said IRF president Melissa Van Dyke. "The research featured in the IRF 'Wellness in Meetings and Incentive Travel Study' leads us to question how integrated these efforts within organizations are -- and what the meetings and incentives industry could do to create better synergies."
The IRF has released a related white paper - "Spanning the Wellness Divide: From Interest to Action in Meeting and Incentive Travel Wellness" - to accompany the survey. The paper provides a detailed look at practices meeting planners are using to design and implement effective wellness programs. View or download the full study and the white paper here.