Monetizing Fitness by Branding Health and Wellness

By Bob Caputo Founder, Bob Caputo Living Well | October 15, 2017

Health and wellness experts represent a profitable branding opportunity for hoteliers worldwide. Featuring specific experts or forging alliances hotels can separate themselves from the competition and increase bookings among a new group of travelers and millennials. Hotel executives have an opportunity to leverage the physical equipment at their disposal, namely, the gyms and fitness centers within their respective properties and resorts.

This is less a matter of lifting weights than it is a chance to lift a hotel's profile by transforming that space into a branded destination unto itself, where guests can enjoy exclusive seminars and private sessions with top health and wellness experts; where these experts, authors and online personalities can strike alliances with a high-end hotel – or a series of hotels under the same name and management – to increase occupancy rates, improve guest retention and attract more travelers in general.

This moment coincides with the ongoing expansion within the health and fitness industry. That fact increases the role for hoteliers, which is an important one, where they can accommodate the needs not just of the niche traveler, but the expectations of everyday guests near and far. The forthcoming debut of the Equinox Hotel, in New York City, further illustrates this point. Based on renderings of the building and its rooms, the look is sleek, modern (minimalism abounds) and in keeping with the fitness brand's appeal to high-income consumers. More importantly, this news seems to confirm that, according to the hotel's investors and real estate developers, the economics makes sense.

Keeping Pace with Change

How can hotel executives join this trend or customize it to satisfy the wants of individual travelers? One solution would be to convert a spacious, and often empty, hotel gym and adjacent spa into a principal attraction; where guests will structure their stay around using these facilities. How, then, can hotel executives monetize these otherwise depreciating assets?

How can hoteliers remake these assets into annuities of a sort, which yield more than financial dividends; which yield greater loyalty from guests and more favorable reviews from members of the press? The answer: Hotel executives can partner with a health and wellness expert, establishing a copacetic relationship between the two that results in more frequent and extended bookings.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.