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Planners Make Some Progress on Healthy Options

But are they caring for guests to the detriment of themselves?

If you’re waiting for organic ingredients in the foods you eat at meetings today, you’re going to go hungry—most of the time. According to a new a study on wellness in meetings and incentive travel from the Incentive Research Foundation, only 4 percent of planners make organic ingredients standard at their events, but another 28 percent say that organic fare is “often offered.”

Other food and beverage practices with a healthful bent are more ingrained in the 329 meeting and incentive planners who answered the IRF study. For example:
• Gluten-free meal options: 40 percent of respondents include them at every meeting, and another 36 percent say they are usually offered.
• Healthy snacks, like nuts and fruit: 41 percent have made them standard practice; 45 percent say they are often offered.
• Locally sourced ingredients: 13 percent say they’re now standard; 43 percent say they are often offered.

Not surprisingly, the most common healthful F&B practice is for planners to offer water and reduced calorie drinks. More than half the respondents (51 percent) have water and reduced calorie drinks available at all meetings and another 36 percent say often offer these options.

The IRF also looked beyond F&B at the venue and programming choices that relate to health and wellness. The verdict on smoking is the most definitive: 65 percent of respondents choose a smoke-free facility to host all their meetings, and another 20 percent say that they often choose them. Offering free access to fitness facilities is almost as common as going smoke-free: 41 percent say it’s standard practice to have free gym access at the venues where they meet, and 30 percent say it’s often offered. Other healthful practices the IRF asked about included:
• Speakers on wellness: standard for all meetings, 7 percent; often offered, 16 percent
• Creative or artistic experiences: standard, 7 percent; often offered, 22 percent
• Organized group fitness activities: standard, 6 percent; often offered, 25 percent
• Mindfulness breaks or resources: standard, 14 percent; often offered, 27 percent
• Frequent breaks to encourage movement: standard, 23 percent; often offered, 43 percent

When the IRF asked meeting and incentive planners about their own job-related health, many raised a red flag. More than half the group agreed that the stress has an impact on their meeting planning and personal life: 29 percent say stress has a “strong” impact and 27 percent call it an “incredible” impact. Only 2 percent say that job stress has “very little” impact on them. Planners have three overall strategies for staying healthy on the road, exercise, eating well, and protecting their sleep.

The full IRF 2019 Wellness in Meetings and Incentive Travel Study can be found on the IRF website.

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