Wellness, Hotels and Resorts in Developing Countries
By Michael Koethner Wellness & Healing Consultant, Michael Koethner | August 25, 2013
The main point of discussion and the key topic elaborated on in this article is the rapid growth of wellness centers (including spa, fitness and pool) within hotels and resorts in developing countries. When looked at "Maslow's pyramid of Human Needs", the development and education of most humans, then compare this with the business and operation side of the hotel or resort it will not make much sense at all to build or integrate a wellness center into some of the new hotel projects. The "why" and "because" will hopefully be reasoned enough in the article below.
There was a time when hospitality was about quality – true quality of craftsmanship and service. It could be seen and felt in the architecture and the design of a building, also in the interior design and hardware within the building. A true reflection of quality was the guest service area, its layout and arrangement – i.e. guest service flow, operation service flow, storage etc. But the most important fact of what made a true and extraordinarily lasting experience was the way that guests were being served with the pure enthusiastic energy through the heart of the person providing the service. Such service provided a natural connection between people that made every guest extremely welcome, secure and joyous. The people who provided such service were not interested in any P&P's, SOP's or other types of obedience or order system, no not at all. They were inspired and internally driven by the feeling of belonging. These associates knew the purpose, outcome and value gained by providing and being of service to one another.
In the times of excellent customer service the majority of guests came back because they willingly, actively and personally related to the person serving them before, and they felt proud to reside and live in a hotel that was solidly build with a strong foundation, with an unshakable culture of integrity, a future perspective of sustainability, as well as beautifully crafted exterior and interior with the care and eye for detail. Some of the guests build such a strong connection to the hotel that they became part of the fixed furniture, so to speak. Even if these guests were not physically there, their invisible appearance was strongly felt by everyone. There are a few hotels around the world, placed in various locations, where one will find that the associates still joyously speak about these experiences with great gratitude and amazement.
Moving back to the now and future. When talking or teaching about good service as described above in the paragraph, it is always about establishing a valuable relationship with a person that makes them feel that they are cared for and getting value for money. It actually does not matter whether the service is being provided to a hotel guest, a personal encounter, a professional relationship, the friend, the partner or a client who is about to receive a treatment in a spa. Good service is also about how well a person can sense the feeling of belonging and connectedness, to a situation, within a community, a family, a work place, a relationship and so forth.
Unfortunately this type of hospitality service has "left the building"; and it is true for most hotels and hotel chains. Since the mid of the 80's the industry has gone from "service by heart" to "see how much cash the guest has in the pocket and take it" mentality. Some hotel companies trying to regain what they have lost over the years and what has been damaged in relation to potential customers. Others would say - "what goes around – comes around", in other words, "serve the other person the same ways as you would like to be served". Of course this is an open statement and can be interpreted in many different ways, but the fact is that there is a tremendous decline in the good service culture in most properties around the world. The conclusion of the observation coupled with a little research is, that it is always about the dollars, and the dollars have taken over and pushed aside the true guest service and quality. Don't be mistaken by thinking that the guests will not notice. The effects of short cuts will be felt much later in the life of a hotel business, sometimes too late.
The key players of this industry, namely investors, developers, owners, operators, must wake up, lay down the coat of greed and profit and start again focusing on sustainability and on the core features of why a guest would come to their hotel or wellness center. They should also evaluate and ask themselves if they can or are willing to create and provide an environment where everyone can be part of the development process and service culture. Remember, people want good things, not bad things. They want to go to a restaurant that serves good and fresh food and not rotten vegetables. Treat the guests and employees in the same manner, as you want to be treated yourself.