Hadley McClellan is the Founder of EvCon FITNESS, which matches event organizers with local certified fitness instructors to make it easier for event attendees to keep up with their fitness goals while at conferences at events. A certified RYT200 Yoga Teacher and the Senior Manager of the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, Hadley has combined her two passions and expertise in yoga and conference management to connect events with wellness across the U.S.
Connecting Your Events to Wellness
As conference organizers, we are always looking for ways to create new experiences that capture attendees’ attention, fuel their participation and keep them talking about the event long after they’ve returned home.
Aside from the draw of a keynote speaker, a trendy networking dinner or even volunteer opportunity, what other kinds of memorable and meaningful "wow" is out there? Here’s a hint: It begins with some workout clothes.
Stretch Your Event Potential
As a yoga teacher, practitioner and the senior manager of one of the largest conferences in the world, I am dedicated to fitness and nutrition. But I’m also a sucker for sweets, good food and wine. Let’s be real: It’s difficult to have a healthy lifestyle on one shoulder and live the conference life on the other.
When I travel, I look for classes that I can take within a certain distance from the hotel or event center, at a time that is convenient with my jam-packed event schedule. But the days are full of networking and big nights out – which doesn’t always match up with my usual early morning call-time. Additionally, there is the added challenge of transportation navigation in an unfamiliar city. Those weeks away often leave me itching to get home and back on my routine.
But what if there was an easier way to combine it all? What if I could stick to my fitness dedication and network with my colleagues from across the country or world at the same time? What if I could create an event experience that is restful – not stressful?
Step Into “Sweatworking”
Attendees have a similar interruption during events. Yes, their FitBit is probably tracking steps during the day but how are they squeezing in time at the gym during their event? As I mentioned earlier, hotel fitness centers are often small and don’t offer classes. Gyms are often inconveniently located or offer pricey one-day admission fees.
In 2018, I taught yoga to a group of 25 one night during show move-in week. Executive directors, vendors, partners and event venue personnel – many of whom had never even tried yoga – were there for an hour of wellness. The outcome: A bonding experience through stretching, talking and laughter.
This kind of experience happens all the time at a studio, along a running trail or in a gym. As event and conference experience makers, we have the unique opportunity to provide multiple spaces for this type of opportunity.
Wow With Wellness
Offering optional and a variety of fitness class options keeps your attendees engaged and excited to continue their fitness commitment – or maybe even jumpstart it. So, how can you gauge your attendees’ personal wellness goals, interests or preferences?
Ask different questions on your registration page:
- In addition to asking about dietary restrictions, also ask about their dietary preferences
- Instead of asking their age range, ask how do old they feel
- Instead of focusing on their field of expertise, ask how they like to unwind at the end of the day
- In addition to asking if they are interested in a networking reception the day before the event, also ask if they would want to run a 5k benefitting a non-profit
Find opportunities that offer a connection to wellness: Attendees are looking at your event because of your agenda, but their reason for traveling there goes beyond just the agenda. They see your agenda, your location, your price and then they look for the hook. Offering them wellness options to their add to their track could be their connection to coming to you.
Focus on fitness / wellness as the “hook” by answering these questions:
- What is this conference going to give me that would make it worth my time leaving home and walking away from my routine?
- Who am I going to meet?
- What are all the options for networking?
If you take the time to combine fitness into your event, you have made that connection and made an impact on their experience and something they won’t soon forget. I hope to see you on your mat or on the track in 2019!