Debi DeBenedetto sees groups visiting Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades looking beyond the beach to incorporate educational activities and eco experiences. Prevue spoke to her about all there is to do along the Paradise Coast, as well as about the region’s emerging reputation as a wellness tourism destination.
Prevue: In what ways can planners inject wellness into their programs?
Deb DeBenedetto: Trends I have seen in this area include early a.m. yoga classes, walks on the beach or 5K beach runs on Marco Island, Health food breaks in the sun with nuts & fruit, yogurt and lemonade or fruit smoothies, beach team building activities/sports incorporated in events, experiential events; example: learn to paddleboard or kayak or skim board or enjoy meditation classes on the beach. We can do all of these upon request in Florida’s Paradise Coast. Our area is also targeting medical association meetings, medical education seminars and continuing education courses in association with our area medical centers and medical equipment manufacturers. We are also working with our area hospitals to have our community designated as a Blue Zone and to become center for Wellness Tourism.
Have the expectations and of incentive groups changed over the past year?
We’ve seen this market change to smaller groups, more creative events keeping budgets in mind and customized programs like our private island events. Incentive planners are adding new found thinking and motivation to their events. We can customize incentive groups to allow the attendees new experiences that are unique or one of a kind. Experiential activities and team building like eco experiences in the Everglades where learning and adventure are combined. Personal Watercraft guided tours of the 10,000 islands for the more the adventurous visitors, or shelling trips for those looking for more soft adventure.
Do you offer any CSR programs for incentives?
If so, how popular are they? We recommend giving back to our environment and eco system since we are western gateway to Everglades National Park. Events or donations can be done at Rookery Bay, Naples Conservancy, Dolphin Explorer and Marjory Stoneman Douglas Foundation. We also encourage groups to adopt an area charity or non-profit group to assist the numerous needy children or adults in our community.