A New Health and Wellness Approach for Hotels

By Bob Caputo Founder, Bob Caputo Living Well | August 06, 2017

I have three words for hotel executives, which may as well be the title of their collective mission: Health and Wellness. Which is to say, the new approach to hospitality – the experience every vacationer deserves to enjoy, and every business traveler has a right to receive – is a healthy atmosphere, a place that exudes the virtues of fitness and nutrition; be it an urban property or a resort location, a boutique destination or a five-star hacienda amidst lush acreage and the soft winds of a turquoise sea; be it a high-end spot or a workaday building, suitable for conferences or company meetings, where a health and wellness expert can consult with a hotel executive – or speak directly to guests – about how to achieve these goals.

Please note: This undertaking goes far beyond the status quo, where a hotel may have a gym – I use that word loosely, as many such places house nothing more than an stationary bike and some barbells – or a breakfast buffet in which chafing dishes hold, respectively, scrambled egg whites and scattered slices of cantaloupe, strawberries, bananas and honey dew melon.

That is not a display of health and wellness. Nor is it a way for hoteliers to distinguish themselves from the competition because, the more we conflate quality with decadence, which may as well be a synonym (within the hospitality industry) for gluttony, the more we assume that a holiday from work will become a regrettable respite from nutrition – what with the sight of pastries, cakes, pies, rolls and loaves of bread – the worse guests will feel, physically and psychologically, and the less likely they will return for another visit. Recognize, too, that I do not suggest hotels should do away with these things.

I believe hotels have a responsibility to inform guests – in a dynamic and intelligent manner – what health and wellness should be; that it should not be – indeed, it must never be – obligatory, like taking a spoonful of medicine or doing something with a sense of resignation; that the perception people have should not be – and again, it must never become – a negative one, as if health and wellness are lifeless rather than lively.

It is a hotelier’s duty to show the truth of this story by having someone tell this tale with an emphasis on enlightenment and excitement. In other words, health and wellness can be fun – it is very fun for me – provided guests learn they have options. Explaining those options, and doing so with eloquence and effectiveness, is critical to transforming this category into something people want to do.

This investment is also more an issue of discipline than dollars, meaning, by having a health and wellness expert consult with a hotel executive – by having that professional customize an exercise and nutrition plan, one that highlights an active and robust lifestyle – a hotel can create a personality that attracts new and repeat business.

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Coming up in February 2018...

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.