You don’t have to look too far to see that people are paying more attention to the kind of food they eat. General Mills just announced the removal of GMOs in Cheerios because of a Facebook campaign. Yogurt companies are doing ads announcing the removal of high fructose corn syrup and diet soft drink consumption is down. People are becoming more aware than ever of what they are eating and increasingly value healthier food options, something that is commonly overlooked in the event industry.
The meeting industry hasn’t historically always been great in supporting healthy habits. Pasta bars and continental breakfasts are cost effective. And let’s face it, an afternoon brownie treat is more exciting than a carrot stick. However, these options may not only be unhealthy, they can be counterproductive to the meeting. And as the interest in proving event ROI continues, it is important to look at all ways to make meetings productive. What we feed people is a key element to keeping them engaged, thinking, learning and conveys the message that you value their health and food preferences, and are willing to invest a bit more in the budget to deliver that. Here are a few ways to make that happen:
- Reduce the high glycemic foods. Foods with a glycemic index of 70 or above are high and aren’t great for keeping people alert in meetings. As blood sugar rises, concentration declines and people can get tired, fidgety or fuzzy brained. Continental breakfasts usually include pastries, muffins and high sugar fruit juice which kill attendees concentration before the meeting even starts. Serving oatmeal with a selection of healthy fresh fruit berry toppings is a much better option. Oatmeal is considered a super food and is the perfect way to stabilize blood sugar and prevent the mid-morning slump. High protein items like hard boiled eggs or a vegetable frittata also provide a healthy, tasty way to start the morning.“Brain foods” such as almonds, blackberries, blueberries, yogurt, dark chocolate and peanut butter are great afternoon snacks. A hummus selection instead of a cookie display can help those afternoon speakers get their content effectively across too!
- Make it easy to increase physical activity. Include fitness options on the website, event apps, and registration booking – and don’t make it just a small one sentence blurb. This allows people to pack the right attire in advance, rather than arriving and realizing there were options and being unprepared. At a one day meeting, include it in the pre-event information. During site selection, pick a site that is good for attendees to walk, run or be active. Give people walking directions to offsite events if feasible.
- Encourage hydration. The human body is over 70% water and fluids are a necessity for wellness. A body suffering from dehydration goes into fatigue. Even mild dehydration of 1-2% can impair concentration. In addition to water stations, remind people to drink! Notes on the screen, reminders in content, a group water toast – whatever needs to be done to keep people hydrated throughout the day. Make it fun!
Companies spend a lot of money on bringing people together for educational, collaborative events. Offering healthy food and physical activity options can heighten the overall experience and can increase your ROI.