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On a similar note, who can forget the mismatched, uncomfortable, outdated furniture of a hospital waiting room complete with overused magazines from the previous year, and harsh lighting unintentionally designed to keep you awake all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 January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.