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On a similar note, who can forget the mismatched, uncomfortable, outdated furniture of a hospital waiting room complete with overused magazines from the previous year, and harsh lighting unintentionally designed to keep you awake all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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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.