According to a new 2024 survey, the U.S. shares $480 billion of the $1.8 trillion global wellness market and will continue to grow at a rate of 5% to 10% per year. What's more, 82% of U.S. consumers dominated by millennials and Gen Z now consider wellness an everyday priority.
Given the undeniable importance of modern-day wellness, we can expect elevated growth in the conference and trade show space to match consumer demand. We spoke with seven health and wellness professionals who work within the event space to spotlight their predictions on how trends in wellness technologies, holistic therapies, psychedelics, and sustainability will impact this year’s large-scale event sect.
1. More touchless wellness technology at trade shows
Touchless wellness technologies have significantly amplified spa and wellness outposts—especially in the wake of the pandemic. Technologies that leverage vibration, light, sound, and scent are at the forefront of the wellness era. Carillon Miami Wellness Resort has been embracing the integration of this trend not only at its beachside wellness retreat, but also as a cutting-edge addition to the trade show experience.
“Taking five to seven different touchless wellness technologies to expos has proved to be a refreshing addition for attendees, providing a moment of respite amid the often jampacked conference days,” shares Tammy Pahel, vice president of spa and wellness operations. “Sitting or standing for prolonged periods throughout a conference day, these touchless modalities offer attendees a valuable and much-needed opportunity for a wellness recharge.”
Pahel’s team participated in Virtuoso Travel Week 2023, one of the largest luxury travel shows. They showcased the Biocharger, a high-tech machine that emits pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF), contributing to the reduction of inflammation, accelerated healing, pain alleviation, and improved blood circulation, while enhancing energy levels, mood, and cognition. Guests indulged in 10-minute sessions, experiencing instant revitalization during the brief wellness breaks.
This year, Pahel predicts a greater surge in touchless wellness technologies on the expo floor. Carillon alone is slated to attend approximately 15 trade shows, with plans to bring up to seven touchless offerings to each event.
2. An increase in sound therapy breaks
While sound baths and gong meditation rituals have been around for centuries, they are becoming more prominent inside the walls of large-scale symposiums. Gina Vensel, co-founder of women-owned boutique plant medicine marketing, education, and advocacy agency Plant Media Project, says music provides well-rounded support for mind-body healing.
“Integrating music meditation into events allows guests a chance to unwind from the often overstimulating energy that occurs at conferences and expos,” she says. “Including a space within the expo for sound therapy offers a getaway from large crowds to allow guests a chance to relax and recharge while also demonstrating the power of sound therapy in an intentional setting.”
In addition to more traditional sound therapies, Vensel says she expects a rise in the fusion of tech-forward AI soundscapes to take sound therapies at events and conferences to even greater heights.
3. Continued bloom from the cannabis and psychedelics booms
In December 2022, we predicted the shroom boom’s direct impact on the growth of psychedelic events. This encouraged us to take a trip to Denver to do some on-the-ground reporting from Psychedelic Science 2023, the largest psychedelics conference in history.
“It's clear that plant-based medicine and alternative therapies for mental health are getting increased interest and attention,” says Lulu Tsui, co-founder and chief experience officer of On The Revel, which produces the cannabis-driven Revelry Buyers’ Club trade show and Revelry Conference in New York. “Get ready for more psychedelic companies to show up at trade shows. You might spot them on the trade show floors, or they could be hosting their own private events alongside the conferences.”
Tsui also shares projected progress within the cannabis event space. “With the expectation that cannabis will be rescheduled in 2024, I’d anticipate a stronger presence from the pharmaceutical and medical industries,” she says. “Rescheduling would increase medical market potential and research opportunities, and allow for patentable formulations.”
4. Data collection by proactive wellness companies
Don’t be surprised if you spot more data-driven information efforts that speak to the category of proactive wellness at events and conferences this year. “More tests and personalization will be showcased and exhibited, from brain scans to body scans and the monitoring of levels of sleep, patterns of sleep, and glucose levels,” shares Jewel Zimmer, certified brain health trainer and co-founder of plant-based supplement company Juna.
Experiential data collecting and education has been on the rise, but expect it to be more present than ever with companies looking to utilize apps, wearable tech, tests, and scans that give consumers real metrics for more accessible decision-making. Ultimately, this isn’t just a marketing strategy to data mine at events, though; it helps companies like Juna forecast a consumer’s needs before injury, disease, or health concerns become a problem, according to Zimmer. “This personalized data will help businesses take their consumers on a journey and empower them to be more proactive in their own wellness with supplementations, trauma healing, and connections between the gut and the brain.”
5. Prioritizing the well-being of the conference speaker
Beyond luxury transportation, curated gift boxes, travel amenities, and gourmet greenroom treats, there’s a growing dedication to leveling up the mental well-being of a speaker to enhance performance. Lou Rod, CEO and founder of talent and experiential agency go MLR, says this isn’t just a passing fad; it’s a response to the evolving landscape of events.
“Event professionals across various industries are realizing the importance of comprehensive speaker wellness,” Rod shares. “Whether it's corporate conferences, global sales meetings, or festivals, the demand for speakers and thought leaders who not only deliver compelling content but also exude confidence and authenticity is on the rise.”
Enter Rod’s team, which provides more than just professional hair and makeup. He partners with innovative wellness service providers like BreathNote to provide music-cued breathing as a relaxation and de-stressing component before a speaker addresses a large audience or participates in a panel discussion. “Our strategy of heightening all senses ensures that speakers are primed for success in any event scenario,” explains Rod. “It's about creating an experience that goes beyond the stage.”
6. Paramedical tattoo pop-ups targeting hair loss
The increased concern surrounding hair loss continues to propel the hair industry to develop and deploy solutions. Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a paramedical tattoo service that can give the illusion of fuller, thicker hair by minimizing the bare, white areas of a scalp, filling it in with microdots that replicate hair follicles.
Jayd Hernandez is an Arizona-based paramedical tattoo artist and her services are in high demand at events because of one simple fact: There is no downtime. “We've done demos of this live, at conferences, because the results of a hair density tattoo are instantaneous,” shares Hernandez. “It looks so natural and can boost someone's self-esteem and confidence. Unlike topical root sprays, SMP lasts and is permanent. They can sweat with it, work out, swim, and shower without having to worry that it will smudge, move, or fade."
In 2024, Hernandez sees SMP gaining popularity at wellness, medspa, and esthetician-focused conferences, and predicts a strong presence at parenting and mom influencer events, and even bridal shows. (We wouldn’t be surprised if Hernandez joins forces with companies like go MLR to provide SMP services to speakers as a pre-conference perk.)
7. Food waste reduction efforts at convention centers
The Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) puts a strong focus on providing clean and healthy food. So much so that the center launched an on-site Herb & Garden project in 2023, managed by MBCC’s hospitality partner, Sodexo Live!, at the on-site restaurant and event space Rum Room and Venu.
“My passion lies in providing our guests with not just meals but a holistic dining experience centered around health and wellness,” shares executive chef Ismael LaSalle. “This season, our Herb & Garden project is a cornerstone of this philosophy, embodying our 'Circle of Life' approach—from composting leftover food scraps from large-scale events to feeding the garden with the compost, then delivering fresh, organic, healthy produce that our guests can enjoy.”
The garden, which was planted nearly a year ago, is now thriving with an abundance of produce that elevates MBCC’s in-house dishes to a new level of clean eating. “We focus on the natural growth process, ensuring each herb and vegetable is nurtured to its fullest potential. This means our patrons enjoy meals that are not only delicious but packed with nutrients and the goodness of nature," he says. "Every plate we serve is a testament to our commitment to health and wellness, offering our guests a genuine garden-to-table experience that's as good for the body as it is for the palate." LaSalle hopes his upcycling efforts and green thumb have a positive influence on the Miami event scene and convention centers nationwide.