How to perfect your hotel’s DNA

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Here’s how to integrate wellness trends into your property.

by Alicia Hoisington

The wellness economy was valued at $4.2 trillion in 2017, and it continues to expand quicker than the global economy, according to the Global Wellness Institute’s “Global Wellness Economy Monitor October 2018.” Meanwhile, wellness tourism was valued at $639.4 billion, an average annual growth rate of 6.5 percent.

With figures that strong, it’s no wonder wellness has become more than a buzzword in the hotel industry.he wellness economy was valued at $4.2 trillion in 2017, and it continues to expand quicker than the global economy, according to the Global Wellness Institute’s “Global Wellness Economy Monitor October 2018.” Meanwhile, wellness tourism was valued at $639.4 billion, an average annual growth rate of 6.5 percent.

“Well-being is increasingly on the minds of all consumers, no matter where they stay,” says Mia Kyricos, senior vice president, global head of wellbeing for Hyatt Hotels Corporation. “Consumers are demanding focused attention in this space, allowing and also encouraging us to find new creative ways to meet their wellbeing goals.”

Wellness isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. It can mean different things to different people, according to Stacy Bedsole, head of global brand experience and design for InterContinental Hotels Group’s EVEN Hotels.

“People might think [wellness]is just fitness,” she says. “We thought holistically about what wellness means and what guests equate to wellness.”

Four pillars comprise EVEN’s wellness story: eating well, resting easy, keeping active, and accomplishing more. For instance, a great sleep experience can be attributed to more than a comfortable mattress. EVEN guestrooms feature color-changing mood lighting to help guests get into the sleepy spirit.

How to integrate wellness

Brand standards and budgets might dictate what hoteliers can offer at their properties in terms of wellness options. But for those hoteliers looking to perfect their property’s DNA, there are some simple ways to integrate and capitalize on the trend.

“It all begins with a mindset and gaining support across all stakeholders,” Kyricos says. “But taking the first step toward a well-being integration can be easier than you think.”

For example, Kyricos says certain Hyatt properties introduced a “Moment of Mindfulness” at the beginning of meetings for the team, pointing to the fact that wellness shouldn’t just be focused on guests. And what’s more, Bedsole says that getting employees on board with wellness can lead to greater engagement and, thereby, better guest satisfaction.

“The best advice I have is for each hotelier to evaluate the entire guest journey from check-in to check-out, and they will be surprised by all of the opportunities available to them to positively impact the well-being of their guests, from the food they offer on site to how they design their hotel rooms or even guest rituals,” Kyricos says.

She says that offering a fresh bowl of fruit in the lobby is a cost-effective way to start. Additionally, allowing guests access to water coolers can help to turn an eye toward wellness.

Bedsole agrees. EVEN hotels offer a hydration station at all properties – in fact, it’s the first thing to greet guests as they enter. It’s a way to show guests that their wellness is a priority. A branded water bottle comes with each room to encourage guests to fill up. When they leave, that water bottle then acts as a marketing tool for the brand. Bedsole tells the story of the time a GM discovered a traveler in Scotland with the EVEN water bottle – a place the brand doesn’t even exist yet – as a way to demonstrate how far that advertising could go.

Bedsole says that hoteliers can consider adding live plants to public spaces as a way to assist with oxygenation. Another effective way to be mindful of well-being is to simply get rid of stuff.

Lighting is another quick way to ensure guests are staying well, Bedsole adds. She encourages hoteliers to take a look at spaces such as the fitness center. Is it tucked away in the corner of the building with poor lighting? While hoteliers might not be able to change the location of the gym, they can take stock of what’s already there. Making sure the space has quality lighting and equipment is a surefire way to show guests that wellness is a priority.

While simple solutions can go a long way, Bedsole says hoteliers who are considering adding wellness options to their properties should do so with a committed heart.

“At the end of the day, hoteliers need to understand their market and who they are trying to attract and what those guests need,” she says. “If an owner feels this is something they can deliver, they should commit. But if you can’t truly deliver, there’s nothing worse than making a promise and then breaking it.”

She says if hoteliers can integrate some wellness initiatives into their properties, there’s good news for the bottom line.

“People are willing to pay a premium because we’re delivering on guests’ needs,” Bedsole says. “They are willing to choose a place that helps support them in their travels, and they pay a higher ADR.”

F&B is good for the DNA

While some owners might be beholden to what is dictated by brand standards when it comes to food and beverage, Michael Tall, president and COO of Charlestowne Hotels, says select-service operators can actually have a competitive advantage when implementing programming. And more importantly, he says it’s a way hoteliers can boost their properties.

Tall says select-service hoteliers “have the opportunity to truly surprise and delight guests. If the expectation is select-service, then anything beyond is received as a treat.”

He suggests hosting an evening reception as a way to offer an additional service to guests. He encourages operators to find a local craft beer, wine, or spirit and pair it with snacks from a neighborhood eatery.

Tall also points to a recent study from the National Restaurant Association that shows 70 percent of diners are looking for healthy menu options, while 64 percent of millennials expect products to be sustainable.

“This does not mean you need to rid your menu of all dishes that exceed an arbitrary calorie count,” Tall says. “However, having dishes with a range of nutritious vegetables and smaller portions of protein are healthier for the consumer and easier on the planet.”

Eric Faivre, vice president of food and beverage operations at Aqua-Aston Hospitality, offers a few more tips for F&B implementation, while also considering the wallet:

Forget the traditional “set meals” – If hoteliers are able to change up F&B, they should consider developing a creative and complete all-day offering. “The key word is ‘complete,’ so you are still catering to specific meal periods and also have selections available for guests eating outside of the traditional meal times,” he says.

Focus on “Locavore” – That is, look local. Not only does it strengthen the surrounding economy, but it also encourages guests to discover new items, which create a stronger connection with the area and the hotel.

Be flexible ­– Offer other options that cover most dietary restrictions.

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