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From Networking to ‘Sweatworking:’ Partnering with Meetings Can Generate Revenue

8 Feb, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

As America becomes more wellness- and health-minded, sports and fitness events are finding their way into today’s meetings and conventions. From 5K runs to softball games to golf tournaments, it’s a trend that is on the rise. Sports event planners may find these events a new revenue stream if they learn how to work with convention and visitors bureaus to partner with meeting planners.

A recent article in Meetings & Conventions included suggestions for building in physical activity, such as circuit training, Zumba workouts, yoga sessions, and relay races. Spa activities, including yoga, were also cited.

It’s not as demanding as a full-fledged marathon or an enormous golf tournament, but it offers a chance to partner with venues, as well as with vendors of merchandise (T-shirts, water bottles, etc.) and it results in income for the planner.

So where is the proactive sports planner to start in making the all-important contacts that can lead to business? Maybe at the corporate level. After all, a recent article in Travel Weekly notes that Hyatt Hotels has acquired resort and spa operator Miraval Group from KSL Capital Partners for $215 million, and will spend another $160 million expanding the Miraval Arizona and building out the brand's Texas and Massachusetts sites within the next three years. Miraval also acquired the Travaasa Austin, with plans to redevelop the 220-acre property into the Miraval Austin. The company is also pursuing the acquisition of the 380-acre Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort in Lenox, Massachusetts, and plans to redevelop it as well.

What’s driving the trend? Travelers who no longer view meetings as a time to overeat and be sedentary. An article in Successful Meetings notes,

A key element driving this shift in wellness is the age of attendees, and planners must keep generational differences in mind when developing their wellness programs. According to Spafinder Wellness 365's "State of Wellness Travel Report," released earlier this year, younger travelers (aged 49 and younger) ranked wellness elements as more important than older travelers. This was true of every aspect of wellness on which respondents were surveyed -- healthy food, fitness classes, spiritual healing, and more.  

While Baby Boomers (aged 50 and older) pointed to the more traditional luxury spa resorts as their preferred type of wellness property, Millennials and members of Generation X preferred eco/adventure resorts and yoga retreats. Respondents were asked to rank wellness property elements from 1-10, ranging from "not important at all" to "extremely important," and every wellness element measured received a higher score from younger travelers than older, reflecting how interest in wellness is growing broadly in younger travelers.

The article notes that increasingly, hotels are offering pre-meeting activities (the Westin Fort Lauderdale has running activities each week), Crossfit, or or aerial yoga session (which the Westin Beaver Creek recently added).

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