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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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.