The Integration of Hospitality, Healthcare and Wellness

By Jackson Thilenius Principal, Retail Design Collaborative | September 23, 2018

Most of us remember the days of sadly isolated and remote guest room bays designated as hotel fitness areas. Usually windowless and always complete with broken equipment, fingerprint riddled mirrors, and an assortment of free weights that look like they came from a local garage sale, these rooms were anything but inspiring. And we've all stayed in hotel rooms with uncomfortable beds and the faint hint of smokers' past, accented only by the masking odor of chemical-laden cleaners.

On a similar note, who can forget the mismatched, uncomfortable, outdated furniture of a hospital waiting room complete with overused magazines from the previous year, and harsh lighting unintentionally designed to keep you awake all hours of the night or noisy vending machines filled with carbonated sugar and salty carb filled snacks conveniently placed at every stair landing and corridor intersection? 

Thankfully those days are ancient history for most of today's contemporary hotels and healthcare institutions. But it certainly took a long time to get here. Today's guests, whether they are hotel or hospital guests, come with incredibly high expectations of hospitality. In a discerning society driven by Yelp reviews and social media, the demand for providing exceptional customer service and a positive memorable experience has increased exponentially as a necessity for success. No longer a trend, hospitality-driven experiences have grown as the standard and our clients are constantly asking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

The hospitality industry continues to drive the market on growing trends and user experiences. If nothing else, hotels continue to be the perfect testing ground for conducting social experiments and honing those primal necessities that define the human condition. It's not surprising then that the infusion of wellness and a healthier lifestyle are dramatically affecting the entire market, sparked by the traction of the trillion-dollar wellness industry.  According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness industry grew 10.6 percent from 2013-2015 from a $3.36 trillion to $3.72 trillion market.

The New Standard: Wellness-Oriented Amenities

By now, everyone is certainly familiar with hotels promoting rooms with mattresses and bedding options that guarantee the best sleep you'll ever have. In certain properties, rooms now also include amenities such as circadian rhythm based lighting, customizable atmospherics, and aromatherapy. Upgrades like Vitamin C showers, dawn simulators, air purifiers and soundscapes are also new additional offerings designed to push the envelope to drive customer satisfaction. 

Retail Design Collaborative's headquarters in downtown Long Beach. Credit: Retail Design Collaborative
Employees practice yoga as part of Retail Design Collaborative's Health and Wellness Program. Credit: Retail Design Collaborative
One of the stairwells connecting Retail Design Collaborative's headquarters open office layout. Credit: Retail Design Collaborative
Employees enjoy making overnight oats as part of Retail Design Collaborative's Health and Wellness Supper Club Program. Credit: Retail Design Collaborative
Retail Design Collaborative introduced Fluidstance desks as part of the firm's WELL™ Gold Certification to promote standing, proper posture and elimination of chronic back pain for employees. Credit: Retail Design Collaborative
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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.