Companies’ wellness goals don’t always translate into their meetings and incentive travel. The recent 2019 Wellness in Meetings and Incentive Travel Study by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) found that 64 percent of meeting planners say their meetings are only “somewhat healthy.” The study found that only 24 percent of meeting planners rated their meetings as “mostly” healthy—five percent described them as “very healthy.”

According to the most recent industry data, some 1.9 million meetings take place nationwide involving more than 250 million participants and generating a whopping $330 billion annually.

“Meetings and incentive travel need to be designed to be healthier, and most health and wellness practices have a low impact on the budget,” says IRF President Melissa Van Dyke. “The IRF 2019 Wellness in Meetings and Incentive Travel Study identifies health and wellness practices that are implemented with greater frequency and that have the most significant impact.”

Of 26 wellness practices featured in the survey, the only standard practices are smoke-free facilities and water/reduced-calorie drinks. Emerging healthy practices in the survey included serving fish, chicken or lean meats; healthy snacks (nuts, fruit); gluten-free options; free access to a fitness facility; and encouraging movement throughout the program. Meeting planners ranked healthy food and beverage (33 percent) and group exercise (25 percent) as the most impactful wellness practices.

Notably, 56 percent of planners said the stress of meeting planning has had a negative impact on their personal life, and they offered wellness strategies to manage this stress.

The IRF conducted the study in December 2018 and January 2019 and received 329 completed surveys from experienced meeting planners. Respondents included external meeting planners, such as agencies and third-parties, and internal meeting planners.

For a full copy of the study, click here.