Cures for 21st Century Ailments- Event Wellness Trends

Something’s wrong with the world, for many it feels like a new era- hopefully not the era of Trump, but a new era no less.

Most of our generation have been fortunate enough not to live through world wars and real struggle but waves of lone wolf crazies & terrorism make us feel threatened more than ever before.  Add to this a decline in belief systems in many western societies, the relentless assault of technology on our senses, pursuit of career growth, financial wealth and the religion of “More” and generation X & Y is beginning to feel a little lost.

Enter “Wellness”, one of the bigger movements of this decade, a modern take on nutrition, spirituality, fitness & physical wellbeing.

Could Yoga, mindfulness, diets, runs and retreats be the cure for the ailments of 21st century living-  technological overload, alienation, insomnia, stress and anxiety?

In my opinion, possibility not but it’s a good start.

Let’s look at two big trends:2014-11-30-TimeMindfulness020314-226x300

Yoga, it seems everyone is at it- at least the fairer sex, there are 36 Million practitioners in the US alone, 72% of whom are women and it’s now created a 16 Billion USD industry.

Mindfulness too has become common, search for books on the subject on Amazon and you’ll find 8000 titles to feed your stressed mind. A western evolution of an eastern philosophy, the concept encourages practitioners to focus on the now, prevent your thoughts from wandering and be present.

Events – be they conferences, festivals or exhibitions – are microcosms, whatever is happening in society should be reflected in the way we design our events and if they aren’t you are out of touch and off trend.

Wellness is being incorporated in an event near you and here is what it looks like:

  1. Menu Design & Food Stations

Deep fried, sugary and meaty is out, and fresh, healthy and light is in.

Chefs are featuring a lot more pulses, grains, white meat and fish over red meats and are getting ever more creative with vegetables. Menus are featuring more superfoods like kale & blueberries and “brain food” rich in Omega 3. Organic, local and seasonal is in for the freshest ingredients and least toxins.

Look out for juicebars, healthy food stations and fun innovations like smoothie machines powered by bicycles.


  1. Fitness Activities

It seems everyone I know is running, somewhere. And most of them are tracking them on the latest techno-gadgets and posting routes on Facebook. Events are no different, with planners incorporating early morning 5K runs and energizer sessions on the beach (if the event happens to be somewhere with weather more appealing than Britain).

Venues are increasingly understanding that their environment is part of their USP and featuring walking maps, running trails and guides to the local area.


  1. Yoga/Meditation

The downward dog is in an upward trend.  You’ll find early morning yoga sessions filling meeting rooms near you, meditation sessions in the mid afternoon and if you are lucky some Tibetan singing bowls. The key to getting this right is getting the environment right- participants need a peaceful, quiet area to participate (maybe not one for the busy exhibition floor).

  1. Wellness & mindfulness speakers

Content wise, there’s a creeping focus on overall mental serenity. We can’t be happy & motivated workers if we are not, well…happy and motivated. You’ll find an increasing number of professional speakers talking about everything from creativity, to finding focus to the now ubiquitous mindfulness.

Drop by, breathe in, tune out!

  1. Massage corners

We asked everyone, and frankly couldn’t find a single soul that didn’t like a massage. This isn’t a new trend per se as it’s been a common sight at events for nearly 10 years-  but hey we all like a rub down. Keep in mind massage therapists tend to favour the portable massage chair for events- the type with a donut shaped cushion you sink your face into before being taken to that happy place.

Massage Corner Produced by Inner Sense

Massage Corner produced by our friends at Inner Sense.

  1. Magic of Music

Music is a great way to bring diverse teams & cultures together around a shared love. The good news is that it’s been getting more dynamic and exciting for a number of years, from African Drumming workshops to more thoughtful groups like Song Division who bring your participants together writing lyrics and then performing a unique song as one big happy family.

Smiles guaranteed.

  1. Venue Design

Stifling, windowless boxes are out as architects are increasingly designing spaces people actually enjoy spending time in.

We’re seeing more natural materials, glass walls and windows, letting the natural world stream in whilst saving energy. Many town planners now understand that convention centres need to sit in a living community, not in a car park. They are designing “entertainment precincts” that will live and breathe throughout the year.

The future is here and if we continue to focus more on individual wellness, each other and the broader community it’s going to be a darn lot better than most of us feared.


IMEX, the worldwide Meetings and Incentive Travel Exhibition are pioneers and leaders at integrating wellness into their event design. Checkout their Wellbeing Map



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