Fitness and Business travel
Ever returned home from a trip, energy reduced, feeling an unhealthy week had passed? A successful week within business is often likely to be a struggle for the body. Unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, time changes, different sleeping patterns, different temperatures and many other factors contribute to a lack of energy. According to the World Health Organization these are just very few of the main factors that influence your health while traveling. The WHO also discussed travel related risk and many other factors, but I will focus on the elements that Hotels can influence.
The power of wellness remains with the traveler, there is no discussion about that. But many hotel companies now do make an effort to assist in that process. It’s all part of the promise, to offer the best service to the guest. From own experience it is highly tempting to go away from normal eating or sleeping routines and habits, a bit more work before you sleep, a glass of beer with the dinner, nicer to be at the pool and catch some sun than to sweat in the gym, recognize it? You have a choice and so do have #hotels to make the choice of feeling energetic, healthy and rested more easy for the guest. In recent years there clearly is a trend for #wellness which you can see in hotel brands popping up like Even hotels by IHG. That clearly is a large step in the right direction.
People are caught into making many decisions during a trip, and the easy and most straightforward ones are those often chosen. And that is one of the roles of the hospitality industry, to make decisions easier.
#Food & #Drink
Sure making decisions easier can be done by offering the obvious, a burger and a beer at reduced price before 7pm. Choice made, pretty easy and you can see a match at the same time. But what about a salad and a smoothie at discount after a Massage in the spa, or a few laps in the pool. You can combine exercise with a healthy food option, resulting in better sleep, improved nutrition eventually creating relaxation and increased energy levels.
The breakfast is another example, more #hotels are now offering biological options, more healthy granola’s, fresh fruits and smaller portions. Again I am not scared away from a good portion of bacon one morning, but stay away from it 4 days in a row.
Hotel Management needs to make decisions mostly based on the cost/value issue. However increasingly the guest or consumer influences the decision. We see for example many Spas popping up in existing hotels. Main reason is a more complete offering for the guest, in the hope they will choose that hotel over others. I am not convinced this is the case, research surely shows that over 66% of the travelers now select a hotel at offers a gym or fitness facility, whether they use it or not is another matter.
For the marketeer this is the opportunity that clearly plays a large role in convincing the decision maker. The Spa also offers that opportunity but still too many fitness or Spa’s disappoint, creating dissatisfaction, resulting in decreased loyalty or no return and negative word of mouth. There is a cost for all this that can be significant, so the trick for management and their strategy is to find the guest who is willing to pay for the ‘luxury’. That is where many hotels are seriously challenged.
One of my Marketing teachers told me once “there are so many ideas, there are just so few people who know how to implement it”. My company lives by that, everything we create, or sell needs to have an angle, a difference that can be marketed in the right way and above all to the right market segment. The statements above really do not have to mean a big change in the hotel, other than small adjustments in operations, keeping in mind that services will only be used if the guests are made aware and even better if they have chosen the hotel for that reason. Some examples are introducing training times by staff for guests, a city running map, a changed menu with more healthy items, a more streamlined breakfast, different minibar items, advice on sleeping habits and many more.
Than there are the more serious changes that can be made by management, playing into the new trends. Investments into hotels deliver great value long term, with regards to property value, and there are also small investments that can be taken out of the normal running costs and P&L. Here the risk of failure is larger, if the investment is not thought through properly.
The Fitness room or Gym
An example is an investment in a new or renovation of a fitness room. Some recent data tells us that over 80% of the traveler using the fitness room, cannot find the right machine in there, or it is occupied, as most people will go to the gym between 5-7pm, losing the purpose of the investment totally. Also the investment is often made without prior research, leaving opportunities untouched. Clearly hotel management has much opportunity going forward to meet the needs of the healthy traveler. It needs to seek the value of this market segment in their existing guest portfolio as well as attract a new potential guest. There are solutions simple and complicated ones. My company has been dealing with many of those, and we can happily confirm the healthy traveler is taken serious.
Hotel companies are taking significant steps to meet the requirements. Travel will continue to change, it’s the hotel management’s role to stay ahead or even more to set the example, when taking responsibility of people, and their well-being.
World Health Organization
Jennifer Acosta Scott – Healthday
Healthy Travel Blog – Global Citizens Association
Hotel News Now – Stephanie Warton