The pressure is on planners to incorporate meaningful wellness initiatives into conferences and meetings. Benefits like increased engagement, retention and satisfaction are making wellness programs an expectation, rather than a nice-to-have, for both hosts and attendees. But not just any program will reap those benefits; it has to be meaningful, easy to implement and engaging for attendees. That’s where step challenges come in.
Step challenges at conferences and trade shows encourage attendees to get active while boosting their engagement with other attendees, sponsors and the conference itself. The benefits of walking include lower blood pressure and cholesterol; increased energy; improved sleep; stress relief; stronger heart, muscles and bones; and improved balance and quality of life. And steps can really add up. I was astonished when my Fitbit revealed I had walked 70,000 steps during a three-day conference in Las Vegas (experts advise taking at least 10,000 steps per day).
Many portal companies specialize in corporate walking challenges as part of workplace wellness programs, but a company called Heka Health is uniquely positioned for the conference market. It offers a turnkey wellness challenge platform that can be customized and branded to your event’s specific needs. Here’s what to do at each step of the planning process to pull off a step challenge.
Develop a campaign for your social media channels to announce the step challenge and encourage attendees to sign up. To join, participants simply download Heka Health’s custom-branded Challenge app, then sync it with their desired activity tracker (e.g., Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, Apple Watch or even the built-in step counters on iOS and Android smartphones). You also have the option to provide participants with inexpensive, custom-branded wireless trackers as a giveaway to boost registration and drive ongoing connection with your brand.
During the Conference
Set up a challenge booth in a prominent location to help new participants get started, hand out custom-branded trackers (if you’re doing them), and display a challenge leaderboard highlighting cumulative steps taken, top steppers and teams, and other metrics most relevant to your program. In addition to the friendly competition based on steps, the program can also integrate fundraising or gamification components, including the ability to scan QR codes to get bonus points for attending sessions, visiting a sponsor’s booth or other target activities.
The good feelings of the challenge are extended post-conference through prizes, recognition, and the ability for the app and trackers to be used by participants after the conference. Many planners host additional virtual challenges throughout the year, providing ongoing engagement.
Kim Bercovitz, Ph.D., is president and chief exercise officer at X bytes. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.