As someone who has worked hard to lose 40 pounds over the last two years, I know it’s a struggle to eat well at work. Fast Company offers advice for handling the “cake culture” at work, where seemingly every day birthdays or work anniversaries are celebrated with drinks, doughnuts and catered lunches. When traveling for business, it’s even easier to deviate from a healthy regimen, splurging and snacking when you’re tired, on the road and far from your kitchen.
Hilton released a survey that asked meeting attendees in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany about their productivity, exercise and dietary habits while at hotel conferences. We found that more than half of attendees pay attention to what they eat and how they exercise in their daily lives, but most weren’t able to maintain this lifestyle while attending meetings at hotels. In fact, 52 percent said they ate a meal or snack they didn’t want because a better option wasn’t available.
Working for the world’s largest hospitality company, my team and I realized we were in a position to make a change: to empower meeting professionals to rethink how they approach meeting planning. Meetings are vital for business success, and in order for attendees to contribute and collaborate in the most fruitful way, they need to be in their element, feeling comfortable and refreshed. In short, we wanted to be the change that others seek to see in this industry. That insight led us to launch Meet with Purpose.
Making a Change
Meet with Purpose provides meeting and event professionals with a solution and an opportunity to make nutritious meals, exercise breaks and sustainability as much of a priority as the meeting agenda. We made it our mission to define the key details that would make attendees happier, healthier and more productive while convening for their business conference or event at our properties.
First, when it comes to food, we worked toward instilling a “quality over quantity” mindset with planners, partnering with our executive chefs to source ingredients locally and seasonally. Then we concepted common fitness activities that could be built into the agenda—things such as walking and gentle yoga. After all, why not give attendees a specific reason to use those gym shoes they packed that often never see the light of day?
One of our marquee offerings that embodies wellness and health is our Yoga & Yogurt menu item, which features a morning yoga session followed by a nutritious and delicious yogurt parfait bar.
Each of our Meet with Purpose menus reiterates a common theme: Meeting menus can (and should) be delicious, satisfying and healthy, and short activity breaks can lengthen attention spans and cultivate more productive working sessions. Even more importantly, these efforts help attendees feel guilt-free about maintaining their personal wellness goals when they travel. It can be that simple to make attendees feel good and keep in line with corporate wellness objectives.
Seven packages comprise the Meet with Purpose program, and many were inspired by executive chef Philip Thompson and his team at Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. I asked an executive if he enjoyed his cut-and-create lunch and he said, “I’m completely satisfied without feeling stuffed. I’m the kind of guy you can’t put in front of a buffet as I don’t make good choices, so I loved it.” I can so relate. It was this conversation that assured me we had a winning concept.
So, How Did We Get Here?
Some call me an “intrapreneur” because I created a pet project that grew into something quite meaningful to our company and hopefully the industry, but it did not happen overnight. Here are three essential tips to getting there.
Be passionate about your program: If you’re going to champion a new program, it’s important to be passionate about the underlying mission. For me, introducing healthier menu options and mitigating food waste reflect my personal passions at home and in the office. I’ve had ups and downs with my weight throughout my adult life, but now I’m at a place where I make more thoughtful choices, without feeling deprived, and I want to help others do the same.
Make sure your initiative will inspire others, but tie it to the business at hand: Passion, though crucially important, has its limits. You have to show people how your program will help them meet their goals and metrics. I had to build a business case and funnel it up the chain for conceptual buy-in from many senior-level stakeholders. I respected and incorporated their input while still keeping with the integrity of the program, ultimately earning approval for a program that satisfied health and business interests at once.
Tap into the national lexicon and ride the wave: When we launched Meet with Purpose in 2015, reporters, sales teams and meeting planners were most intrigued by the food component of the program. Who doesn’t like to talk about food or the latest diet craze? This is one of the main reasons we enhanced Meet with Purpose 2.0 in 2016 with a strong food component—everyone already wants to talk about food. The point is, we tapped into a passion point with our customers, and we’re riding the wave.
Toni Zoblotsky, director of B2B marketing at Hilton Worldwide, is responsible for leading teams that deliver quality creative assets to elevate the client experience and perception of the Hilton portfolio. As part of this overall effort, Zoblotsky helped bring to life the Meet with Purpose program.