Creating Authentic Internal and External Wellness Cultures

By Mia A. Mackman President & Owner, Mackman ES | November 19, 2017

Wellness has wide-ranging context and scope. As we continue to see new mergers and acquisitions, property openings and program developments focused on wellness-leisure, health and lifestyle assets, it's critical to consider the genuine spirit of these new wellness-driven components. Whereas, in the recent past these features may have been viewed as industry trends, there is no question the appetite for global well-being continues to grow with increasing investments and consumer demand.

According to The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2017 Report "Travel & Tourism's contribution to world GDP grew for the sixth consecutive year in 2015, rising to a total of 9.8% of world GDP (US$7.2 trillion). The sector now supports 284 million people in employment – that's 1 in 11 jobs on the planet." (1) Wellness is showing up everywhere. Be it travel and tourism, restaurant chains, grocery stores, entertainment venues, and more. This further points to the importance of designing wellness cultures that deliver value from the inside-out, centered on straightforward principles that match a brand philosophy with honesty and transparency.

"What may masquerade as wellbeing services or wellbeing product positioning is, often, false promotion used to capture market share in valuable spend segments. There are many examples of operators and companies cashing in on the momentum of a booming wellbeing industry that lack authenticity in their service provisions or scientific evidence in the claims of their product. That said, some of them have built highly profitable companies at the expense of less educated consumers, whom are becoming savvier by the day. Watch out for industry bubbles that are likely to pop!" says Anni Hood, Managing Partner of WELL Intelligence (WI) [link: https://wellintelligence.com/ ] (2) WI is a new bi-monthly publication providing insight and fast track analysis on the juncture between hospitality and wellbeing industries through a macro and micro analysis lens.

To elude the burgeoning swell of false program value in the quest for marketability, companies must understand the essence and depth of their internal-wellness culture. As evidenced in the impetus of the "green and sustainability movements", the complexities of action and non-action, led many companies down a path of sensationalism, while lacking the depth necessary to initiate significant internal progress.

The roll out of large-scale mock-wellness programs and imitation wellness models comes with considerable risks. Not only are there substantial financial asset risks but deceiving a highly informed, globally connected consumer market presents significant challenges and can jeopardize or undermine success. Whereas, wellness, health and mindfulness are strongly linked to personal values and unique, individual vulnerabilities, it's conceivable programs that don't deliver could instigate a profound breakdown in customer trust, preferences and brand loyalty.

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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.