The diverse world of wellbeing products and services is brought together under one (virtual) roof for the first time

Adele Wolstenhulme is Wellbeing Director for the inaugural Wellbeing World Virtual Expo, run by the newly created Moodie Davitt Virtual Expo Company. The event marks The Moodie Davitt Report’s diversification outside travel retail (although the event will be open to brands, airports, airlines, cruise companies and others active in the travel channel).

Adele Wolstenhulme: Never has there been a more critical time to be health empowered as people, and wellbeing-focused as companies.

The Expo, to be held on 18-31 January 2021 (with a follow-up showcase from 31 January to 26 February) and officially launched today, is a pioneering event in the burgeoning wellbeing space and, uniquely, is targeted at trade (retailers, service providers, hotels, spas etc), health professional and consumer levels. Here, Adele tells Martin Moodie about her belief in the concept of wellbeing and her aspirations for the event.

Martin Moodie: Adele tell us about your background and what ultimately led you to Wellbeing World?

Adele Wolstenhulme: I started out in a very different career, as you know Martin, being one of my first employers in trade journalism after an early start in newspapers. Travel retail was certainly a dynamic industry to spend ten years in, but as you know, it wasn’t until my move to San Francisco for the publishing company’s new consumer research business we started that my interest in health and nutrition really began. The fast-paced lifestyle of deadlines and jumping on and off planes had already started to take its toll on my health. But I was still in my late 20s by then, and you think you are made of steel, right?!

Adele Wolstenhulme in profile

Adele Wolstenhulme is a practising clinical Psycho-neuro-immunologist, nutrition consultant and metabolic balance coach.

She is regularly consulted by professional bodies and associations to run international and UK-based exhibitions and practitioner training events, and to consult on the development of ‘food as medicine’ menus. Partners have included The Institute for Functional Medicine, the Alliance for Natural Health International and The British Association of Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy.

Adele worked alongside The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie as Editor in Chief of Travel Retailer International at Euromoney from 1997 to 2007, where she was also Director of Events and Senior Vice President Business Development for consumer research joint venture RFH Consumer Insight.

She has worked with the BBC and Sky Sports and in 1994 won the Barnett Janner Travel Scholarship in Politics to work as a reporter in post-apartheid South Africa.

For all speaking and exhibiting enquiries regarding Wellbeing World Virtual Expo please contact Adele at Adele@AdeleWolstenhulme.com

I know that being surrounded by farmers’ markets and yoga in San Francisco influenced my change in career direction to becoming a health professional. All that delicious and nutritious fresh food finally helped my brain to switch off when it needed to, after years of accepting ‘tired and wired’ as a normal everyday feeling. I could think a lot more clearly.

Fast forward a few years and my curiosity in the positive effects of nutrition and lifestyle change on my wellbeing sent me back into education. I managed to juggle consultancy work in travel retail to pay for it, and of course the two worlds were bound to collide.

I qualified initially as a nutritional therapist in 2008 and began working with individuals within the industry who approached me for help. The consultancy work started to take on a whole new focus too at this point, as airports and airlines certainly had a long way to go before they could positively claim to be servicing both health-conscious and health-challenged consumers. The offering was thin on the ground.

Things have moved on now, with notable airports and airlines leading the charge. I hope that in the post COVID-19 environment even more step up to the plate – no pun intended!

Only a few years into the brave new world as a health professional and I found myself itching to write again – a desire that never leaves you.

I started doing a few things for health professional titles and mainstream media and was consulted by various professional bodies and associations to run exhibitions and practitioner training events, as well as to advise on ‘food as medicine’-style menus, including for The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), the NGO Alliance for Natural Health International (ANH-Intl) and The British Association of Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

I have also been engaged to address consumer audiences on health and nutrition and travel wellness, including Wellness Academy and British Military Fitness.

During this time as my own health and fitness, and that of my clients improved further, my curiosity peaked again. I guess I became a frustrated nutritional therapist as 90% of the people who consulted me had a backpack full of emotional ‘stuff’ that was weighing them down, and advice on diet alone was never going to help them take that stuff out. I wanted to help people gain optimal health, and you can only guide to achieve that if you consider all aspects of a person’s life – mental, physical and environmental.

So what happened next?

That’s when my interest in ‘brain fitness’ began and led me into the study of clinical Psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI), where evolutionary biology and anthropology were firm foundations. I wanted to understand more about ancestry and our genetics, and how we used to eat, move and ‘function’ as original human beings. Only then could I have more of an understanding of how disease states developed, I figured, and help a person achieve true ‘wellbeing’.

Armed with this new knowledge I set out to educate clients about how at odds modern living is with our physiology, as seen through the lens of human evolution. We are simply not designed physically and mentally to cope with the ‘weird’ environment we now live in, as evidenced in the chronic disease burden modern society was currently grappling with before COVID-19. To empower people to live healthier lives without the need for surgery or prescription drugs is now even more critical than ever before. I think we can all embrace this, at any age.

And then you popped up again in my life Martin with Wellbeing World! There was never a better time to stage such an ambitious and much needed project.

Why the need for a wellbeing expo? And how do you define wellbeing?

You have quoted me before here Martin, and I will never stop saying this. Never has there been a more critical time to be health empowered as people, and wellbeing-focused as companies.

When you approached me about Wellbeing World the pandemic was raging. It continues to be a heavy burden on healthcare systems across the world with the most vulnerable and health-challenged suffering most. None of us know when the battle with COVID-19 will be won. It’s likely we will be living alongside it for many years, so we need to be better armed physically for our immune systems to deal with it, and psychologically to not live in fear of it.

The problem is that access to health education and professionals can be costly. There’s a dire need for free access to what we offer, and to have a greater understanding of what’s out there to help promote wellbeing on every level. Wellbeing World offers both.

We are living through a time that is re-shaping our lives and for most of us, life will never be the same again. Is that a bad thing? Not in my book! You only have to speak to any of my colleagues and they will all agree that life got way too ‘busy’. We’re not programmed to live as we do now, frazzled to a point where people got so overwhelmed with the basics of day-to-day living. I got incensed when I saw frequent ads for care home pension planning being thrust upon us before we reach our 40s.

Pre-COVID we were already obsessed with ‘health’. One minute fat is bad and then it’s not. How much is too much when it comes to sugar and children’s health? And why are so many of us succumbing to depression? The consumer press is still never short of a celebrity or two claiming to have found the dieter’s holy grail. Whomever you ask, you’re likely to get a different answer.

So I think now we are all ready for a grown-up conversation about health and wellbeing. I want Wellbeing World to provide that platform. We will provide education, resources and tools for those ready to embrace optimal health, for body and mind. And it’s never been so easy to access such a wealth of information on functional & lifestyle medicine completely free of charge – for consumers and health professionals alike. All anyone has to do is register and get online. It’s that simple.

For me ‘wellbeing’ is an all-encompassing term. Its definition can be different to different people. But for me, and as a PNI practitioner, it’s about ‘flexibility’. To be flexible psychologically implies better control over your physical health. For example, Alzheimer’s disease renders the sufferer completely psychologically inflexible. They can no longer think freely; make decisions; eat, sleep or rest without help in the latter stages.

At the other end of the spectrum, someone who is very stressed and anxious is also not fully psychologically flexible. Their behaviour around others may be challenging – but they won’t recognise this because they may not have the ‘brain energy’ to be balanced, rational and calm. The same goes for physical flexibility. If they have positive mental attitude, a person with a disability can be more flexible psychologically than a person without a physical disability. The person with the – so-called – ‘disability’ has better overall ‘wellbeing’ in this example.

In my practice, I consider all aspects of a person’s physical, cognitive, emotional, social and sexual health and identify where there are imbalances in any one or more of these areas. If any are out of balance, then flexibility isn’t possible, which means ‘wellbeing’ is challenged and optimal health a likely uphill struggle.

Based on what you are saying, wellbeing is a broad subject, not only in health terms but in the context of the various goods and services involved in it. How are you going to integrate all this into one event? Who are your target markets?

Wellbeing can be seen as a broad subject area, yes. And there are many sectors within my industry as a health professional and those that service consumers directly that could be seen to sit under this umbrella. And there are many physical events that target one or the other. But I see distinct areas that unite consumer and practitioner audiences across all relevant sectors that focus on and promote wellbeing.

We will offer visitors a complete lifestyle A-Z under five clear pathways through our expo halls that will be instantly recognisable as fundamental to wellbeing – EAT, MOVE, MIND, SELF & SLEEP.

You’re targeting a consumer + trade/professional audience within a single event. Pretty ambitious! Why the two tiers? How will that work?

It makes complete sense to me. I launched my own brand back in 2010 with a physical event called ‘Tackling the Stress Factor’ where I was asked that same question. I attracted health professionals, and consumers, and the food and drink and lifestyle brands that seek to sell to both!

After all, as a health professional all products under the wellbeing umbrella are effectively the tools of our trade to our clients, as medications are for doctors. My 2010 event was on a much smaller scale than Wellbeing World of course, being a physical event. With a virtual event there are literally no boundaries, and I love that! So much more we can offer and over a longer period of time.

Health professionals aim to attract consumers to their talks, events and practices. Lab testing companies and pharmaconutrition suppliers aim to attract medical practitioners and health professionals to use their tests and supplements. Natural beauty, self-care and lifestyle brands aim to attract consumers AND health professionals to buy their products.

So we are attractive as an event to consumers, brands, service providers and health professionals across the board, and this was very important to me to link these audiences. One fantastic feature for exhibitors with Platinum Suites will be the ability to offer dual access points for consumers and, say, health professionals – an appealing feature for those companies with both B2B and B2C offerings.

Physical events are currently not an option, and the future will likely change so that virtual combines with physical to offer far greater accessibility and value. This is the new normal, and we need to adjust our thinking and push the boundaries of what is now possible.

What about the conference/workshop side of things?

Leading lights and thought leaders in functional and lifestyle medicine will take to the virtual main Symposium stage, with keynote addresses across each of the areas of EAT, MOVE, MIND, SELF & SLEEP featured.

Over the coming months we will be announcing these speakers and conducting interviews, sharing podcasts and getting people excited about what is to come!

I’m excited about the showcasing possibilities we have within the ‘Experience Zone’ too. There are some amazing ‘medicinal’ chefs out there promoting ‘food as medicine-style’ menus, for example.  And for SLEEP, there are some fantastic products out there that we will be demonstrating and reviewing.

What do you hope to achieve out of this event?

 A dear friend of mine I first started my training with back in 2004 once asked me what I wanted to achieve out of my career change. I asked her the same. We were simultaneous in our responses – to change the world! We laughed, as everyone else probably did. But wouldn’t it be something if we all had the courage to really believe that we could? It’s only through collective collaboration that this is anyway possible. COVID-19 has moved the goalposts. But they needed to be moved so that each and every one of us can move with it.

Let’s touch on the travel market – something close to my heart and my core business.

Who could have anticipated just how business critical it would become to instill confidence and reassure people that it will be safe to travel again? ‘Travelling well’ has taken on a whole new meaning.

We are seeing a groundswell of products and services entering the travel space since the pandemic, as it becomes the policy of governments around the world to prioritise passenger health and wellbeing throughout the journey. We can’t underestimate the ‘fear’ that’s driving huge anxiety around the idea of boarding a train, plane, or boat again.

So addressing and reducing anxiety is absolutely crucial, and through Wellbeing World Virtual Expo our highly experienced team of health professionals, together with thought leaders in wellbeing, functional & lifestyle medicine will seek to educate and empower consumers to take control of their health, and arm businesses with the tools to future proof theirs.

Footnote: Like its predecessor event, the Virtual Travel Retail Expo, Wellbeing World is also based on sound corporate social responsibility principles. For every exhibitor we will fund a life-changing operation for a child through international cleft charity The Smile Train; while we will work with our chosen eco-partner, non-profit 501(c)3 organisation One Tree Planted, to plant a tree for every trade or health professional visitor, a concept we have called The Trinity Forest Project.

For all speaking and exhibiting enquiries regarding Wellbeing World Virtual Expo please contact Adele at Adele@AdeleWolstenhulme.com; the official website is now live at https://wellbeingvirtualexpo.com/. Special discounts are available to exhibitors at the Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo.