Smart Meetings made wellness—physical, mental, social and career health—a focus for the annual Northern California Experience last week at Hyatt Regency San Francisco. The event brought together top meeting professionals for a day of boutique education, networking and inspiration that 13 years after Marin Bright launched the format in the meetings industry, is still the most efficient and luxurious way to get business done.
An Oasis of Wellness
Author and activator Laura Putnam got everyone moving with an opening keynote that woke up bodies and minds. She encouraged meeting professionals to strive to create an oasis of well-being in their offices and in their meeting spaces by addressing the culture so the default is movement and health.
“The pandemic has changed the way we see workplace well-being forever,” she said. The isolation took a toll on mental health, tripling rates of depression. Remote employees are struggling to keep boundaries and work-life integration is breaking down. “People need to feel cared for and know that they matter for what they do and who they are,” she said.
In an ideal workplace, resources go beyond physical to include mental, social, career and community.
“What matters most as a human being is feeling a sense of dignity,” she said.
Putnam suggested setting aside time for breaks for wellness and offering access to green spaces. She stressed the importance of letting people know they can be themselves and don’t have to “code switch” to fit in.
She also advocated for meeting professionals finding ways to create healthy structure for themselves, even on busy event days. “Take time to recharge and figure out what you at your best looks like,” she said.
“Manage your energy, not your time and practice self-compassion,” she added.
A Renovation Ahead of Its Time
When the world gives you a pandemic, make lemon drops. This is the approach Hyatt Regency San Francisco took by moving up a planned 2023 renovation of its 821 guest rooms and 72,000 sq. ft. of meeting space fronting Embarcadero and the Bay. Area Vice President and General Manager Matthew Humphreys celebrated the completion of the final touches on the last of the guest rooms, the return of meetings, the recently announced 80% decline in crime citywide as orange-vested ambassadors take to the streets with an aggressive anti-graffiti initiative.
The venue supported the event’s wellness theme with robust menus that displayed the richness of San Francisco’s culinary scene with nods to the different neighborhoods, cultures and styles of cooking. Executive Chef Victor Litkewycz is a former Hyatt Executive Chef of the Year and speaks multiple languages, including Papiamento, Spanish and Ukrainian.