Ignite

Ignite September/October 2016

A fresh resource for people who plan and manage meetings, events, business travel, promotions and incentive programs. Providing you with inspiration, guidance and great ideas.

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14 | Ignitemag.ca | September | October 2016 good to know great minds by Danielle Russell, CAE CLEARING the air I was alarmed to read the following tip in an Ignite email blast: Engage all your attendees' senses by building aromas into your event design. I immediately recalled the scented lobby area at an Atlanta-area hotel that had me running to the pharmacy for allergy meds, and the Peruvian hotel with the scented Kleenex that sent me into an allergy spiral. As an allergy sufferer, artificial aromas—perfumes, scented cleaning products and air "fresheners"—built into an event are my worst nightmare. I contacted Ignite to advise them of the potential impacts of what I'm sure was a well-meaning tip, and they asked me to provide tips for meet- ing planners who want to ensure the comfort of all attendees, regardless of their level of scent sensitivity. I've enlisted the help of my former colleague and fellow allergy sufferer, Shannon Bott, CMP of COACH: Canada's Health Informatics Association. Why should you care about indoor air quality? First, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are increasing and affect as many as 30 per cent of adults. More and more workplaces are going scent-free. In fact, University Health Network in Toronto has created a scent-free environment for both employees and patients. While the comfort of your attendees is an important goal in and of itself, there's a monetary aspect too—if I arrived at an event where the organ- izers had purposely created a scented environment and I was unable to participate, I'd want my money back. In addition to not artificially scenting your events, here are a few things you should look for when conducting a site visit: 1. Use your nose. If you think you smell floral or fruity aromas or incense, ask the hotel staff. 2. Check lobbies, public areas and all meeting rooms. If you have a room block you should also check a standard room. 3. Always check the restrooms: many now pump fragrance or "air fresheners" into public washrooms. 4. Check if the hotel has any existing polices about scent-free environments or avoiding harsh chemicals. 5. Ask if the site is pet-friendly (pet dander is a common allergen), and how much of the venue is accessible to pets. 6. Consider your event flower approach: As with many other allergy triggers, there is really no "safe" flower for everyone. Two meeting planners—who both suffer from fragrance allergies—urge the industry to go scent-free The Canadian Lung Association's website (lung.ca/lung-health/air-quality/ indoor-air-quality/scents) provides a good primer on indoor air issues and scents, as well as an outline of some of the potential impacts on your attend- ees' health, which can range from headaches and asthma right up to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hospitalization. Meeting planners would never dream of serving nuts, eggs, shellfish or wheat without warning our guests, and we check for accessibility when select- ing venues. We believe indoor air quality should be afforded the same consid- eration. That's why we hope meeting planners will join us in making events safer and healthier for all attendees, including those with scent sensitivity.

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