Coralee A. Dolyniuk, Association Manager, and Certified Fitness Professional.
In my last article, I wrote on the importance of meeting the needs of participants in our event and association meetings by adding a physical activity component. As a society we are entering the trend of activity tracking, HITT training, Cross Fit etc. and we need to ensure our participants are moving during the day. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines states that “adults aged 18-64 should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.” When you are at a multi-day conference or event, that includes traveling, how do you do this? I know the answer! As the association or event manager add this to your program!
How Do You Get Buy-in From Your Event or Association Client?
Use facts, provide articles and have health and wellness professionals endorse your idea. These three links all highlight the importance of daily physical activity:
Once you get your buy in begin to prepare participants for the addition to your event or association meeting. Promotion will encourage participation.
How to Promote the Activity Prior to the Event
Promote the activity you choose well before the event. Highlight it as new in the registration sites/packages. Highlight a few benefits of physical activity including how refreshed delegates will feel afterwards.
Send e-blasts reminding registered delegates about the activity and what to bring to participate prior to your event.
How to Promote the Activity at the Event
- Create an equipment lending program. Depending on the venue, there may be an equipment loaning program in existence. An example is the Westin’s Gear Lending Program. http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/about/move-gear-lending.html An alternative is to bring in a sponsor to either provide a similar equipment lending program or a cash donation towards the event or association purchasing this equipment.
- Promote this service at registration. Ensure that the registration staff promotes and explains the activity, and level it is designed for (hopefully all levels). Remind the registration staff to promote the equipment lending program for those who didn’t bring shoes or shorts.
- Have an exhibitor booth based on this activity explaining how to participate. Encourage a local Health and Wellness/Fitness Professional to be at the booth promoting the importance of regular physical activity. Ideally this would be the same person who is leading your activity.
- Have the emcee encourage participation in various announcements throughout the day. Put this in the moderator notes and on the looping power points, the goal is to make delegates excited about the activity.
- If you are using a conference app, send reminders to participants throughout the event. Adding this to the app will demonstrate to delegates that this portion of the conference is just as important as attending the sessions. It will provide delegates the opportunity to refresh, smile, and relax a little.
- Market this physical activity as a very important part of the program. Make it fun!
There is a First Time for Everything
Incorporating fitness into association conferences will become more and more prevalent, so keep trying new activities until you find what works best for your participants. Even if you only have a 25% participation rate in this activity you have achieved success! You have successfully energized the participants so they can continue with their sessions with an increased attention span. You’ve also probably encouraged laughter and incorporated a fun social aspect to your conference.
Next blog…what type of activity to add…