Making the case for green space Expert OpinionWorld

Fiona Churchill, regional conference & events manager, Jockey Club London, turns attention to health & wellbeing, namely the benefits of hosting an event at a venue with vast outdoor spaces.

Over the past few years, workplace wellbeing has crept up the priority list for event organisers in the meeting and events industry. As a result, the demand for venues and facilities has shifted to focus more on outdoor spaces, enjoyable activities and those with ‘healthy’ menu options.

This places venues with large outdoor spaces; hotels situated in green rolling parkland; golfing venues and, of course, racecourses in a good place to promote their sporting, outdoor and ‘healthy’ credentials.

According to the World Health Organisation: “Green spaces are important to mental health. Having access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities, improve wellbeing, and aid in treatment of mental illness.”

But venues can do more.

These green spaces should offer more than scenic views, instead, the areas can extend the venues’ offering providing additional – and unique – space for events and meetings. As well as the meetings themselves, outdoor breakout areas can be used for alfresco dining options, such as picnics and BBQs, when the weather holds out, creating a sociable and relaxed atmosphere.

To encourage meetings to move outside, Wi-Fi accessibility and connection needs to remain strong so delegates can continue to work. It is important to also consider support staff; will the event organiser also be able to get the service they expect both inside and out?

The World Health Organisation found that alarmingly ‘physical inactivity, linked to poor walkability and lack of access to recreational areas, accounts for 3.3 per cent of global deaths’. Appreciating that this statement refers to those with little or no green areas in their everyday life, it still demonstrates the need for the meeting and events industry to incorporate more outdoor areas into meeting packages to promote better health and wellbeing in general.

Physical activities, such as golf, trekking routes or treetop challenges are a great way to inspire heathier away-days for workers. These activities can be staggered for differing abilities to ensure that everyone can get involved and a sense of teamwork can be encouraged.

But health and wellbeing aren’t all about benefiting from the outdoors. Should the weather work against outside plans, it remains important that frequent breaks punctuate working days to ensure that delegates get the chance to relax, recuperate and have some ‘thinking time’ if they need to. If the venue has an interesting history, then perhaps a short-guided tour could work wonders to get attendees moving and spark interest.

Highly nutritional food and drink options provide delegates the fuel they need to get through the working day. It’s not about offering food and drink which is considered to be ‘alternative’ but certainly could be offering delegates healthier options for typical meals.

With health and wellbeing now a constant on the list of priorities for the global meetings and event industry, it is essential that venues ensure that they are adopting and promoting ‘health’ in all its forms to delegates and event organisers. The events of the future may see us all – literally – jumping for joy.

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Exhibition World hosts great guests on its pages. Our Expert Opinion section is a unique collection of the best ideas from the best professionals in the international events industry.

Exhibition World hosts great guests on its pages. Our Expert Opinion section is a unique collection of the best ideas from the best professionals in the international events industry.