The event décor is picture perfect; the music is playing. Wine is flowing freely, and a sumptuous three course gala dinner has just been served. You, however, are hiding behind a screen of pipe and drape hoping that no one notices you stuffing a handful of mints from the hotel front desk candy jar, because you realize that’s all you’ve had to eat in the last six hours.
Event managers are notoriously bad for looking after their clients and attendees at the expense of their own self-care. That “convention cold” you always seem to get after a big event may be less about being exposed to a plethora of viruses and more about the fact that you’ve been running on empty for the last three days.
We survive on little sleep, even less food and probably barely remember to drink any water at all. Let alone enough.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of the ways you can and should be taking care of yourself and your team but it may give you some ideas and items to consider.
You need to look after your feet; the amount of walking you do at an average event might put a professional athlete to shame. At one event my colleagues and I totaled up our step counts and realized that between us we had walked the equivalent distance of Toronto to North Carolina (about 1700 kilometers).
Shoes need to be well fitting, breathable and not feature high heels. If you have the misfortune to work for a company that specifies heels in the dress code, push back. Many jurisdictions now make it illegal for dress codes to place unequal burden on male and females. Shoes that will cripple your feet come under this category.
For my professional tip, I’m a big fan of the Peppermint foot spray from the body shop.
Food and drink
Again, we excel at providing only the finest dining and drinking experience to our attendees, but how many of you actually plan your own meals into the event flow?
Meals to feed your team should be accounted for from both a time and cost point of view. If your client expects you to be onsite for the entire day, then they need to budget for your meal needs as well. This should be a non-negotiable item
It may not be the most cost-effective solution for you to eat the venue’s food, in that case you need to include scouting out local options on your site visit. But more importantly you need to plan the time into your event schedule. This includes exact details of who and how you are going to get the food to your hungry (and maybe even hangry!) team. Is someone going to order via food delivery service? Is someone going on a fast food run? If so who and when? No one should be under any doubt as to when or if they are going to be fed.
I know this sounds easier said than done but you are doing your clients a disservice if your team isn’t well fueled to deal with the event in hand.
Of course as well as food, hydration is incredibly important. For whatever reason, every single convention Centre, hotel or event space I’ve ever been to has the driest air you can imagine. On a normal day you’d need to keep chugging back the water, when you are running around like the proverbial chicken, even more so.
To finish this off, I wanted to bring your attention to a little “gotcha” that caught out a colleague of mine. Two days into a five day event and they were sick, headachy , suffering from blurred vision and generally nauseous, but it didn’t feel like the normal cold / flu/ lurgey.
Turns out they were running an event in Denver….at an altitude of over 5000ft. Altitude sickness is real for us sea level dwellers!
Zoe Bell is event manager at Managing Matters in Toronto. Zoe has a decade of experience planning a wide range of events and conferences, including multi day virtual events.