Events Planners Need to Build in More Self-Care Time for Frazzled Attendees: Hilton Report

Meeting room participants stretching

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Hilton’s 2023 Emerging Trends Report focuses on a sense of caring, frictionless travel, more engaging experiences, and enhanced wellness offerings.

The stress level of everyday Americans is both worrisome and understandable. According to the American Psychological Association, “Stress in America” poll, stress and mental health issues are soaring due to lingering anxiety about Covid, rising inflation, and the Russia-Ukraine crisis, with these concerns only increasing when preparing to attend a meeting or conference. Packing, airport anxiety, getting to the hotel, the worry about bringing Covid home to loved ones, rusty networking skills — these are all additional stressors.

It’s no surprise that during Hiltons’ recent leadership team meeting in New York City for 100 of its clients, a prevailing sentiment was the importance of taking care of meeting delegates.

“Attendees want to be cared for physically and emotionally. We have been through a lot the last few years and attendees want to continue with their mindfulness and wellness journeys when they attend meetings,” said Gerilyn Horan, Hilton’s vice president, group sales and strategic accounts. “We must build in time for attendee self-care in a meaningful way.”

While the care of attendees has been discussed for years, it’s recognized today that talking is not enough. “Building this time into the agenda must happen,” said Horan.

With this in mind, it is not surprising that wellness and care remain one of the top trends identified in Hilton’s, “The 2023 Traveler: Emerging Trends that are Innovating the Travel Experience.”

By 2023, Hilton anticipates travelers will have a renewed appreciation for being cared for, with 86 percent of respondents indicating they also want recognition and personalization while on the road.

Based on the report, today’s focus is on finding the balance between technological and human innovations, establishing deeper connections and care, and embedded wellness experiences. The report is a culmination of insights collected from more than 7,000 global travelers in a survey commissioned by Hilton and conducted by Material, a global strategy, insights, design, and technology partner.

Ease Up on Environmental Impact

Not only is care of self a focus but so is caring for the environment. Hilton offers a LightStay Event Impact Calculator that generates a customized estimate of the environmental impact of a meeting or event, estimating the carbon emissions, energy use, water, and waste associated with a meeting.

Bill Jones, global senior vice president, general manager of communities, The Channel Company, a marketing agency for technology companies, participated in Hilton’s recent leadership team meeting. It was there that he learned about LightStay. “It was the number one thing I took back to my operational team. I plan to take advantage of this platform and show our organization and our communities what we are doing as far as tracking our impact,” said Jones. “Thinking about ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and the environment is important.”

Travel as a Gateway

Another theme revealed is travel as a gateway to discovering different perspectives and a way to connect with colleagues. Nearly half of survey respondents want to broaden their horizons and immerse themselves in local culture and products while traveling.

“People don’t want to zip in and zip out. They want to understand the fabric of the community they are visiting and that’s where Hilton’s Travel With Purpose and Meet With Purpose comes in,” said Horan.

Meet with Purpose helps planners measure and manage the environmental footprint of their meetings, using actionable data from its LightStay platform.

Another emerging trend is frictionless travel, both technology and human-led. Hilton’s global research found that more than half of travelers will prioritize adopting solutions that make travel easier in 2023.

Technological innovations that focus on frictionless travel include Hilton’s Digital Key, allowing travelers to bypass the front desk and go straight to their rooms, and Confirmed Connecting Rooms by Hilton, which enables companies to reserve adjoining rooms when booking online. Available at more than 80 percent of Hilton’s portfolio, Hilton’s Digital Key reduced plastic waste by an estimated 125 tons.