Managing Hygiene in Hospitality Based Fitness Centers

By Bryan Green Founder & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products | January 30, 2011

One might assume that the fitness center is likely among the healthiest places to be in a hotel or resort…or it could be the least. The virtues of providing your guests with a functional and well balanced fitness facility are plentiful and today well known. However, ensuring the safety of your guests while they use the facility goes beyond the simple maintenance of your fitness equipment.

Today, the threat of wide scale microbial contamination is greater than ever. The gym environment presents a natural breeding ground for these contaminants. Understanding what the risks are, and what can be done to create a hygiene friendly facility will help you comprehensively achieve a most healthy fitness experience for your guests.

What You Need to Know

Bacteria in poorly maintained fitness facilities can spread disease. Antibiotic-resistant staph infections can be picked up from heavily used exercise equipment, stretching mats, and improperly disinfected toilets/locker rooms.

Skin based staph infections, including those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, can spread through shared gym equipment, mats and towels. Infections tend to occur near a cut or scrape or body parts that my directly come into contact with infected surfaces. Astoundingly the CDC currently reports that MRSA now kills more people in the USA than AIDS. With 20-30 million Americans visiting fitness facilities of all types multiple times per week, it is incumbent upon operators to re-evaluate their cleaning and personal hygiene protocols.

MRSA is found on people and not naturally found in the environment. It reaches objects and surfaces outside the body if someone touches infected skin or certain areas of the body where these bacteria can live and then touches the object or surface. Another way that items can be contaminated with staph and MRSA is if they have direct contact with a person’s skin infection.

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Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.