How to Help Your Attendees Discover Sustainable Happiness

March 18, 2021

Carrie Abernathy

Carrie Abernathy CMP, CEM, CSEP is an award-winning event strategist who has been active in the world of meetings for over 15 years. Carrie was co-founder of the Association for Women in Events, the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force, and is a speaker, blogger and coach at A Woman with Drive. Carrie also co-hosts the talk show “Events: From Black to White,” which explores equality in the events industry.  

Last year, I took the Yale certificate course on the science of wellbeing. This fascinating topic really hit home with me. I started to dig into more of what makes long-term happiness sustainable. Once I grasped Yale’s model behind sustainable wellbeing, I started translating that to my events and to my daily life to test it out. It turns out that Yale was on to something. Below are some tips and tricks to make your events (and perhaps your personal life) more joyful!

1. Human Connection

We all crave some sort of human interaction — even introverts like myself weren’t spared when the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, attendees are looking for ways to connect. Zoom fatigue is absolutely real. Staring at a screen watching content as a bystander is no longer acceptable to most attendees. The easy solution is to give attendees an experience and way to interact with one another! Make it simple for attendees to chat or schedule one-on-one video meetings within your platform. I recently attended two virtual events that were great on content, but terrible with the human connection component. If you tried to reach out to an attendee, they were sent an email and there wasn’t a clear way to “chat” within the platform. Make sure that when you assess your virtual providers, there is an element to facilitate those connections that are needed in today’s sometimes isolating working environments. Matchmaking, mentorship and normal live conference components should not be ignored just because you move your event online.

2. Exercise and Movement

Science heavily points to exercise being an incredible reliever of pain, depression, fatigue and other ailments. Just because you may not be meeting in person doesn’t mean you can’t add exercise to your agendas to lighten your attendees day! I’ve held events where we pre-recorded meditation, yoga and boot camps so that attendees can choose their own adventures. These were wildly successful because attendees could do them on their own time. However, you can incorporate that human connection element many other ways—perhaps through a friendly walking competition or Peloton challenge. Get creative!

3. Gamification and Experiences

Content is no longer king. Adult learning styles have changed significantly over the past decade, with a massive shift in attention spans shortening over the past 12 months. Not only do we have to give our attendees great content, but we also have to provide experiences, edu-tainment and gamification to keep all adult learning styles engaged! Just remember there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” model when it comes to content and engagement. A healthy mix of on-demand, virtual live, pre-recorded and entertainment should keep even the most discerning attendee engaged. And don’t shirk gamification! At a recent virtual event, we offered “pizza for a year” to the top points-earners through our conference platform and found that our attendees had quite the competitive spirit! We drove high content engagement through gamification, and you should be considering that when choosing your virtual providers, as well. 

4. Give attendees a PURPOSE!

Studies show that when we do good for others, we can have happiness lasting up to 10 weeks. That is incredible! Attendees crave learning and networking, but giving them a purpose and adding in charitable/altruistic components to your meeting just may be the icing on the cake. With the onslaught of virtual events, you can still deliver on philanthropy. Perhaps attendees are being sent care packages to put together for their local shelters, or writing notes to health care workers. Don’t underestimate the power of “good” when putting together your experiences in the future.

Of course, there are many other ways to add joy to your attendees event experiences, but these are a few starters backed by science! In short, experiences, movement and connection are the next normal when it comes to virtual and in-person events moving forward.

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Partner Voices
HERE, hosting responsible meetings and caring for our communities are top priorities. Through its 'Focused on What Matters: Embracing Humanity and Protecting the Planet' philosophy, MGM Resorts commits to creating a more sustainable future, while striving to make an impact in the lives of employees, guests, and the communities in which it operates. Water Stewardship Efforts MGM Resorts understands the importance of using water efficiently, especially in the desert destination of Las Vegas. Conserving water has always been part of the mission, but MGM Resorts has expanded its ambition into water stewardship. In 2022, MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle signed the CEO Water Mandate—a UN Global Compact initiative mobilizing business leaders to advance water stewardship. MGM Resorts International was the first gaming company to take this important step. MGM Resorts replaced 200,000 square feet of real grass with drought-tolerant landscaping in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts pledges to reduce water withdrawal intensity by 33% by 2025 and by 35% by 2030. From 2007-2021, use of more than 5.6 billion gallons of water was avoided because of conservation efforts. Caring for One Another MGM Resorts’ Food Donations Program collects and preserves unserved food from conventions held at MGM Resorts properties, then safely donates to food insecure people in the community. Since the program’s launch in 2016, more than 3.7 million meals toward a 2025 goal of 5 million meals have been donated into the community. Donations include: Unserved perishable prepared foods from events Perishable unprepared food from MGM Resorts’ kitchens Nonperishable food items from minibars and warehouses The collaboration with Southern Nevada’s primary food bank, Three Square, has developed the infrastructure needed to safely collect, transport, and store food from MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas, reducing food waste while serving the community. Fostering Diversity and Inclusion To MGM Resorts, a diverse and talented workforce is essential to success. By cultivating innovative strategies that consider multiple perspectives and viewpoints, the company creates an inclusive workplace culture that benefits its employees and community. MGM Resorts takes pride in being a welcoming home for veterans, individuals with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. This commitment to inclusion is reflected in the company's recruitment and hiring practices and its social responsibility initiatives. From the workplace to the community, MGM Resorts' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains unwavering, and its efforts continue to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all. MGM Resorts understands its responsibility to contribute to the social and economic progress of the communities in which it operates. HERE, we embrace humanity.