The Well Hotel: What's really behind the curtain?

By Tracey Anne Latkovic Corporate Vice President / Sales, Canyon Ranch | June 28, 2015

Wellness is seemingly everywhere. Our shampoo comes from the corner of healthy and happy; our workstations allow for standing, sitting, and walking; fast food joints are now in the healthy choices game; and even our margaritas' are skinny. The proliferation of health and wellness opportunities that have been thrust into our lives in the last few years have most of us wondering which end is up. Remember the 90's? The low-fat, no fat, low-calorie, no calorie craze had our heads spinning and guess what? We ended up fatter than ever. We need to look beyond the hype to discover what's best for our well-being.

But the interest in "being well" really shouldn't come as a surprise. Baby boomers, the oldest of whom turn 69 this year, are experiencing mounting health concerns. And our healthcare system is in flux, with ever-rising costs putting pressure on individuals and businesses, alike. And on the positive side, a plethora of research is available that supports that leading a healthy lifestyle leads to better energy and productivity and, not surprisingly, living longer, more joyful lives.

In response, every industry seems to be jumping on the wellness bandwagon, which just adds to the noise. From food and beverage to furniture; from beauty products to bathroom fixtures – there is no disputing that health is "in". And anytime there is a commercialization of information, especially relating to health and well-being, even the most conscientious among us can be led astray. We have seen this time and time again. These days no one disputes the fact that cigarettes are bad for your health; however, for decades, superstars, doctors, scientists, and good-looking, healthy-looking people were all used in cigarette ads to persuade consumers that smoking was good for your health. And it worked.

In today's high-paced society there so many more ways to stay connected – to friends, to the media, to 'experts' – which means the sheer amount of information hitting our cerebral cortex is frenetic. We need to be more mindful than ever about our choices. We need to have awareness that in today's market, the true, authentic wellness brands are harder to see.

This is especially true in the travel industry – nearly every hotel seems to be creating branding around the concept of wellness. Why is this happening? According to SRI International and the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, the global wellness tourism economy is projected to demonstrate an annual growth rate of more than 9% (nearly twice that of overall global tourism) through 2017, putting it at a forecasted value of $678.5 billion. With the onslaught of marketing around wellness, the hotel industry is paying attention and wants a piece of the revenue pie.

So, what's really behind the wellness curtain? As consumers, we should be asking ourselves that question as we navigate through the many hotel wellness options out there. Here are a few points for you to consider:

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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.