Connecting Your Events to Wellness

March 12, 2019

Hadley McClellan

Hadley McClellan is the Founder of EvCon FITNESS, which matches event organizers with local certified fitness instructors to make it easier for event attendees to keep up with their fitness goals while at conferences at events. A certified RYT200 Yoga Teacher and the Senior Manager of the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, Hadley has combined her two passions and expertise in yoga and conference management to connect events with wellness across the U.S.

As conference organizers, we are always looking for ways to create new experiences that capture attendees’ attention, fuel their participation and keep them talking about the event long after they’ve returned home. 

Aside from the draw of a keynote speaker, a trendy networking dinner or even volunteer opportunity, what other kinds of memorable and meaningful WOW is out there? Here’s a hint: It begins with some workout clothes.                                                                                                           

Stretch Your Event Potential

As a yoga teacher, practitioner and the senior manager of one of the largest conferences in the world, I am dedicated to fitness and nutrition. But I’m also a sucker for sweets, good food and wine. Let’s be real: It’s difficult to have a healthy lifestyle on one shoulder and live the conference life on the other. 

When I travel, I look for classes that I can take within a certain distance from the hotel or event center, at a time that is convenient with my jam-packed event schedule. But the days are full of networking and big nights out – which doesn’t always match up with my usual early morning call-time. Additionally, there is the added challenge of transportation navigation in an unfamiliar city. Those weeks away often leave me itching to get home and back on my routine. 

But what if there was an easier way to combine it all? What if I could stick to my fitness dedication and network with my colleagues from across the country or world at the same time? What if I could create an event experience that is restful – not stressful?                    

Step Into “Sweatworking”

Attendees have a similar interruption during events. Yes, their FitBit is probably tracking steps during the day but how are they squeezing in time at the gym during their event? As I mentioned earlier, hotel fitness centers are often small and don’t offer classes. Gyms are often inconveniently located or offer pricey one-day admission fees. 

In 2018, I taught yoga to a group of 25 one night during show move-in week. Executive directors, vendors, partners and event venue personnel – many of whom had never even tried yoga – were there for an hour of wellness. The outcome: A bonding experience through stretching, talking and laughter. 

This kind of experience happens all the time at a studio, along a running trail or in a gym. As event and conference experience makers, we have the unique opportunity to provide multiple spaces for this type of opportunity. 

Wow With Wellness

Offering optional and a variety of fitness class options keeps your attendees engaged and excited to continue their fitness commitment – or maybe even jumpstart it. So, how can you gauge your attendees’ personal wellness goals, interests or preferences? 

Ask different questions on your registration page:

  • In addition to asking about dietary restrictions, also ask about their dietary preferences
  • Instead of asking their age range, ask how do old they feel
  • Instead of focusing on their field of expertise, ask how they like to unwind at the end of the day
  • In addition to asking if they are interested in a networking reception the day before the event, also ask if they would want to run a 5k benefitting a non-profit 

Find opportunities that offer a connection to wellness: Attendees are looking at your event because of your agenda, but their reason for traveling there goes beyond just the agenda. They see your agenda, your location, your price and then they look for the hook. Offering them wellness options to their add to their track could be their connection to coming to you.

Focus on fitness/wellness as the “hook” by answering these questions:

  • What is this conference going to give me that would make it worth my time leaving home and walking away from my routine?
  • Who am I going to meet? 
  • What are all the options for networking?

If you take the time to combine fitness into your event, you have made that connection and made an impact on their experience and something they won’t soon forget. I hope to see you on your mat or on the track in 2019!


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.