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Unique Venues of London member Royal Horticultural Halls says events are known to be stressful, but steps can be taken to mitigate this

Words: venue sales manager Lorraine Thorne

This is why we launched De-Stress Fest at the Royal Horticultural Halls (a member venue of Unique Venues of London): an annual event that focuses on giving back to the events industry and helping MICE professionals not only unwind, but to better manage their stress at work and become more productive.
We had the opportunity to host a wide network of people in the events industry, hold relevant talks, provide healthy finger food and drinks and keep guests engaged with the subject of wellbeing.

The main goal

Wellness has always been an important topic but is gradually gaining more awareness in the events industry.
Last minute requests and changes are the norm, which can put stress on all those involved, including event agencies, coordinators and the venues themselves.

The aim of De-Stress Fest was to bring people to our venue and show them ways in which they can become happier in their home and work environments. At the recent inaugural event, we also wanted to show how our space is ideal for wellbeing-related affairs and the ways in which the space can make people feel more at ease during their visit.

At the event, we offered relaxing massages and tips on how to deal with pressure at work and daily life, because people are generally very busy. For next year’s De-Stress Fest, we have many other ideas in the pipeline, including additional treatments and a service that brings puppies to offices as a method for alleviating stress.

Putting a plan in place

It’s important for people to take time out of their daily routine to just sit back, relax and recharge. Even something as small as bringing back the lunch hour is integral to de-stressing as so many now eat lunch at their desk and don’t take their eyes off their computer screen.

There are also many ways venue and event managers can improve their understanding of the concept of wellbeing to help their employees.

Firstly, I believe managers need to manage their staff’s work hours and make sure they aren’t working very late, and also ensure they have some time off.

Secondly, one-to-one meetings with your team are vital. Taking a chunk out of your day to speak with your employees ensures that you know what is going on, and allows you to lend assistance if necessary. Reducing stress in the workplace and boosting employee morale is about recognising the signs of a stressed team and helping those who may have particularly heavy workloads.

At the Royal Horticultural Society, the parent organisation of the Royal Horticultural Halls, we have a wellbeing scheme called the ‘Time To Change Campaign’. It’s aimed at improving mental health in the workplace and ending the stigma associated with poor mental health.

We are also often invited to various outings with our suppliers, and we make sure that our operations team is involved as well. Last year, for example, we had a mini away day at ArcelorMittal Orbit, followed by a productive brainstorming session about our venue and its work.

Well-suited for wellbeing

The Royal Horticultural Halls is an ideal space for wellbeing events because of the architectural features of the venue. For example, our Lindley Hall has a vaulted glass roof through which natural daylight shines. This is particularly appealing to clients who book conferences and want to avoid the stuffiness of a hotel basement.

Our location off Vincent Square also means there isn’t too much hustle and bustle surrounding the venue, giving clients a sense of privacy and some peace and quiet.

Lastly, there is flexibility regarding the layout of the Royal Horticultural Halls. The spaces we provide have no set format; for instance, if people want to arrange special seating or presentation areas, or decorate the space with fake grass and plants, this can be done. Essentially, event organisers have the freedom to make the space their own.

The future of wellness and events

Wellbeing-centred events are growing in popularity. As people become more aware of what they’re consuming, catering companies are starting to offer healthier food options, such as fruit, yogurt and oat pots. Even the demand for non-alcoholic beverages is on the rise, as they can be low in sugar.

It’s essential to have lots of breaks as well. After sitting and watching a presentation for hours, event attendees need some time to regroup. Engaging in another activity during this time, or simply sitting in a calm area, such as a garden, is a great way to relax mid-meeting.

Finally, any funds from hiring our halls goes straight back into Royal Horticultural Society, which is a registered charity. While the organisation is well known for the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flowers Shows, it is also actively involved in charity projects with schools and the rest of the community. As the events industry continues to thrive, we can expect to see more funding for wellbeing schemes and greater attention placed on the importance of mental wellness both in and out of the workplace.