Karen Shackman is the founder of Shackman Associates New York, a New York destination management and event services company. In this Shakedown, Shackman discusses why mindful meetings are on the rise and how meeting planners can easily incorporate this trend to create a zen-filled meeting experience for attendees.
Why do you think mindful meetings have become such a big trend in the industry?
There is an overall trend toward health and wellness while traveling for work—from both the perspective of baby boomers and millennials—and everyone in between. Whether it relates to mental wellness, organic food or a focus on exercise and spa treatments, individual preferences or requirements for mindfulness and wellness are now impacting the meeting industry for groups.
Why do you think meeting planners should incorporate this trend into their meeting?
If meeting planners are to keep current with the trend of their participants, it is really important that the nature of the meetings reflect a more mindful approach. Mindful components of meetings can include everything from meditation in between breakout sessions to yoga before an entire day of sessions.
How do you work with meeting planners in incorporating this trend into events?
We ensure a well-balanced meeting. This includes starting the meeting with a mindful “frame of mind” through a guided meditation or breathing exercise and food and beverage that adequately reflects the more mindful or healthful awareness of the guests—whether it be organic, low cholesterol or easily digested meal options. This includes protein shakes or green juices at meeting breaks.
What’s the first step in creating a mindful meeting?
It is important to understand the nature of the meeting, the information that is being relayed to guests and how to incorporate mindfulness into the whole meeting—not just the start or end. Getting early feedback from attendees can be very helpful.
What are some other creative ways to incorporate this trend into events?
We recently did a pre-meeting event at SoulCycle in New York, and we have seen that meditation experts suggest that the most ideal time to meditate is post-workout. Attendees love this approach, and it increases engagement when they then move to the business components at destination meetings. We have also incorporated “re-charging stations” into events that include rooms to recharge phones while recharging minds and bodies. It can be as simple as 20 minutes of quiet time in a nearby room, but the results are amazing.
What are some of the best mindful meetings programs currently in place for meeting planners to check out?
The best hospitality venue I have seen [that incorporates] this is 1 Hotel Central Park. The hotel brand, which is expanding to Brooklyn, incorporates all of the elements I have mentioned such as creating a holistic atmosphere that combines mindful environments with mindful F&B.