Ali Turner on Wellness in 2018: Emotion, Pragmatism and an Industry-Wide Response

Ali Turner on Wellness in 2018: Emotion, Pragmatism and an Industry-Wide Response

In last year’s IBTM World Trends Report, the research took a brief look into what 2018 would bring; one of the predictions was that ‘2018 would be the year of wellness’.

The prediction accepted that there is already an incredible amount being done in the field of wellness within the events industry. Around the world, we’re seeing amazing examples of legacy activity, and event professionals taking personal and business wellness to another level. Equally, this is not new, for many years the industry has taken wellness seriously and we find pockets of excellence throughout meetings and events and the businesses that make them happen.

What the prediction nodded towards though, was a more professional organisation of an industry wide approach to wellness, and an increased cohesiveness within what remains an incredibly diverse industry. In the UK, the Eventwell movement has gained huge momentum and continues to lead the way as an industry galvanising campaign which focuses on wellness across every aspect of the meetings and events market place. Equally, MPI have coordinated a global approach to wellness and are one of the loudest associations in this subject. They are, from my point of view, also the most visible sign of one of our global associations spreading this message around the world.

The trend predicted for 2018 has come to fruition though, with many businesses galvanising behind these campaigns, and others. I’m confident we will look at 2018 as a ‘tipping point’ moment when the industry took the subject forward as one, joining together the many outstanding examples and shining a light on both the good and the bad.

A secondary trend around wellness for 2018 is one that was not predicted, but which underlines the more professional and cohesive approach to the subject; one of business incentive and reward. An analogy used by EEF Venues, one of the businesses that are leading this conversation in the UK, is that of sustainability. It seems like a very long time ago that sustainability moved from an emotional argument to a pragmatic one; ask someone to turn the lights off and they may do it, ask them it will save the planet and they are more likely to, tell them they will save money, and the chances go up exponentially; tell a business they will save and make money by turning off lights and they will create motion sensitive light switches. In short, if there is a business imperative, businesses move, and the world moves with them.

The good folk at EEF Venues have stressed the need for a more pragmatic, business focused approach to wellness, to add to the already robust (and often heart wrenching) emotional ones. What is the business argument for wellness, how can it impact on the balance sheet and not just on the emotional personality of a business? Brands want to be seen to do the right thing, but to make them really commit, there should be an incentive, and usually this is fiscal.

This is dangerous territory I know, it moves an emotional debate into a financial one. It side-lines the very personal stories of many event professionals, and replaces it with talk of ROI. However, in my mind it is a discussion that has to happen and one that this industry, more than most, has the right to have.

This industry, more than so many others, understands people. We are all about people, be they delegates, organisers, venues or production services. We are a people industry and we make it our business to understand them and provide hospitality for them. But we are also a growing industry, financially we are expanding and our role within business has never been stronger – see the IBTM World Trends Reports conclusion on meetings and events ‘Taking Care of Business’.

We have the right to tell business where it should engage emotionally, and to back up these examples with financial incentives. We can also use the many examples of legacy creation, personal and professional impact as an example of this. We can cite the many medical congresses that create breakthroughs, as well as the ways we look after people who, by their very nature, expose themselves to unsociable working hours and huge personal pressure.

Other industries can learn from some of the amazing work that is being done within meetings and events to understand things like ‘good and bad stress’, how to gain the very best sleep, despite working 18+ hours, the importance of nutrition in concentration, and recovery practices.

In my mind, one of the big moments in our industry’s approach to wellness, was the Forbes magazine article that named ‘event coordinator’ in the top five most stressful jobs. Personally, I was skeptical of our collective ability to create a coordinated response to such a damning and potentially dangerous finding. I’m pleased to say, that on the basis of 2018, I was wrong. There is a great deal of hope ahead for an industry that is showing its agility on a macro as well as micro level.

Ali Turner and Rob Davidson will present their findings from the 2018 edition of the Trends Watch Report at IBTM World on 27-29 November 2018.

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