The World Obesity Federation’s Healthy Venues accreditation is a bit misleading. If it’s done right, it’s not the venue that gets healthy, it’s the people who attend meetings and events there. The Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow — the first recipient of the Silver Healthy Venue accreditation — recently demonstrated how, during the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress 2016, held at SECC on June 18–22.
“What we weren’t trying to do [in obtaining Healthy Venue status] was be preachy about a cause,” said Kathleen Warden, SECC’s director of conference sales, “because the venue’s not looking to align itself with the cause of reducing obesity. But we’re looking to align ourselves with creating opportunities for attendees to have a slightly more healthy experience at conferences.”
As a Healthy Venue, SECC offers nutritious food choices as well as a variety of different opportunities for physical activity, such as walking instead of using an escalator. SECC also works with individual meeting clients to incorporate wellness elements into their programs. “The Royal College, they were really keen to engage in it,” Warden said, “because a lot of nurses don’t necessarily have the healthiest of lifestyles, because they’re working night shifts and they may not be eating the best of food all the time. It was something that they’re really trying to promote — healthier lifestyle practices within the nursing community.”
During the RCN Congress, SECC presented a variety of physical activities, including yoga sessions, a daily step challenge, and free access to bicycles. RCN availed itself of many of the healthy menu options from SECC’s catering port-folio, and during the show, water was the best-selling beverage. In the end, SECC was “really pleased” with how RCN took advantage of its Healthy Venue offerings, according to Warden.
“One of the things that we’re finding is really important is that we’ve got to make this as easy as possible for people,” Warden said, “because organizers are just too busy to think about introducing something else into the meeting. If it’s going to cost them time and energy, it’s a big ask because these guys already work incredibly long hours and are really full on in the roles that they do. So we’re just continually fine-tuning things to make it easier for clients to do this.”