Fitness Matters: Staying Strong in a Weak Economy
By Bryan Green Founder & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products | May 25, 2009
For the better part of two decades, fitness has grown steadily as a critical component to a hotel's overall service offering. What once was merely an ancillary component of the hotel experience, grew steadily on the shoulders of a society that became more and more focused on daily wellness and ultimately, healthy longevity. Business and leisure travelers alike have made maintaining a steady exercise and fitness regimen on the road a top priority, and the demand for exemplary fitness services has reached an all-time high.
But has the weakened economy rendered fitness back to merely an ancillary concern for hotel operators? While the quest to exhaust as many viable areas to reduce cost is strong, fitness is one area perhaps to invest further. With budgets tightening and less discretionary cash to throw around, travelers will more than ever choose hotels that have earned their satisfaction and loyalty. Therefore, protecting this loyalty by maintaining the level of service they expect is more critical than ever. As consumers wrestle to maintain financial health and longevity, the desire to maintain physical health and longevity is unwavering. So if you think that fitness is an expendable priority, you might want to think again.
The economy has placed an enormous amount of stress on most everyone. So the guests that hotels will be serving during this tough period will be in need of stress relief like never before. It will be common to see lavish meals and cocktail hours dashed, in favor of an hour in the gym to break a sweat and effectively decompress. The last thing you want is for your fitness center to under-deliver at the time when it's needed the most. Now I'm not necessarily advocating the addition of new or upgraded equipment (although if you have yet to effectively address this vital component of guest expectation, the distance between you and your competition is likely lengthening in the wrong direction). What I am suggesting is a closer attention to a realistic budget for fitness to ensure that the dollars spent are done so strategically, in ways that will protect and maintain customer satisfaction levels.
And if you operate a high-end resort where high-quality services and amenities are a benchmark of your brand and customer experience, you simply can't afford to allow high-quality standards to decline. The effects of a declined customer experience and the related negative word-of-mouth reviews can be extremely damaging.
At the most basic level, several measures should be taken from a standpoint of covering the "bare necessities." These are the areas that if ignored, can lead to rapidly dissatisfied, frustrated guests, and ultimately the exodus of once-loyal customers: